Representative Robert “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) introduced the Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2017, on May 17, 2017, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) announced. Similar to previous school construction legislation, this version, at ASHA’s request, contains provisions allowing for grant recipients and bond issuers to use their funding to address excessive classroom noise issues. Further, in addition to a number of other building elements, schools would have to report on the condition of their classroom ceilings and windows, and key acoustical features in a classroom, ASHA said in its announcement.
In 2004, the ASHA Working Group on Classroom Acoustics recommended an “appropriate acoustical environment” be established in all classrooms, according to the ASHA website, that included voluntary standards such as noise levels not exceeding 35 dBA in unoccupied classrooms. According to ASHA, a student’s ability to hear and understand communications in the classroom is vital for learning; a noisy classroom reduces this ability. Excessive classroom noise and poor acoustics occur when the background noise and/or the amount of reverberation in the classroom are so high that they interfere with learning and teaching. Poor classroom acoustics affect speech intelligibility, reading and spelling ability, behavior in the classroom, attention and concentration, and academic achievement.
For additional information on classroom acoustics please visit the ASHA’s website here and for tips on how to reduce noise in classrooms, click here. Advocating for legislative and regulatory efforts related to classroom acoustics supports the hearing health care issue in ASHA’s 2017 Public Policy Agenda.