CISCA Releases White Paper on Acoustics in Schools
The Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association has released an extensive white paper, “Acoustics in Schools,” designed as a tool for architects, interior designers, and other design professionals who work to improve school environments for all users. According to the association, this is the first white paper to address this issue and is available at no charge.
In the educational environs, acoustics matter-classrooms in the United States typically have speech intelligibility ratings of 75 percent or less, meaning every fourth spoken word is not understood. Furthermore, children and adolescents only understand about 180 words per minute that is about a third less words per minute than adults-all the more reason that designers as well as educators need to be attentive to the acoustical environs of educational settings-including the reduction of reverberations.
The paper provides an introduction to the acoustical issues commonly confronted on school projects. Literature on this topic, gathered by CISCA and highlighted in the white paper, draws attention to important acoustical considerations in the built environments of schools. The white paper also presents practical design responses to these issues in language that is “practitioner-friendly.” The white paper features a bibliography and a glossary of terms that both provide further information.
“CISCA was compelled to develop this white paper because of the critical role acoustics play in creating an environment that facilitates learning. CISCA has a great deal to contribute to design professionals, as well as educators and we are proud to publish this white paper as a valuable reference tool,” said CISCA Executive Director Shirley Wodynski.
The white paper makes clear the following:
* Classroom acoustics are an important, often neglected, aspect of the learning environment. Up to 60 percent of classroom activities involve speech between teachers and students or between students, indicating the importance of environments that support clear communication.
* Inappropriate levels of background noise, reverberation, and signal-to-noise ratios can also inhibit reading and spelling ability, behavior, attention, concentration, and academic performance. Furthermore, children who develop language skills in poor acoustic environments may develop long-term speech comprehension problems. Good classroom acoustics are a basic classroom need, not an accessory, to give all students access to spoken instruction and discussion.
* Acoustic problems persist in classrooms because of a lack of acoustics education for architects and engineers, the prohibitive expenses of acoustic refurbishment, and because adult listeners often do not consider the limitations of children’s hearing abilities.
“Acoustics in Schools” also covers the stipulations for new or substantially renovated schools to be LEED certified. In addition to in-depth coverage of the classroom space, the white paper carefully identifies issues particular to school libraries, gymnasiums, classrooms for the hearing impaired, lecture halls and auditoriums, and music rooms. The paper also points out the importance of collaboration between the various members of the design teams and the educators and administrative staffs.