One of the key issues for NDCS as part of our campaign to close the gap in educational achievement between deaf children and their hearing peers is the extent to which acoustics in the classroom acts as a barrier to learning.
It’s quite simple really. If most deaf children are now taught in mainstream schools, it is extra important that acoustics in the classroom are of a high a quality as possible to enable deaf children to listen and learn effectively.
Sadly, NDCS comes across a lot of anecdotal evidence that acoustics in new built schools are not good enough. Common problems cited include massive open plan classrooms, high ceilings and poor sound insulation. In addition, the tendency towards big shiny glass buildings can also have the unintended side effect of making it harder for deaf children to lipread.
We’re going to be taking a closer look at this issue. We’re keen to understand whether the existing standards – known as Building Bulletin 93 – are good enough for deaf children. And, if so, are they being applied correctly by builders?
This is all in the context of a massive school rebuilding programme in England of both secondary schools and primary schools. It would be a massive wasted opportunity if these new schools were not built with the best possibe acoustics. And it would not just benefit deaf children – but all children and teachers too.
If you know of any examples of schools in the UK that have poor acoustics and in which deaf children find it difficult to learn, do let us know. It will really help us with our campaigns.
And if you work in a school and are concerned about the acoustics in it, take a look at the NDCS publication – the Acoustics Toolkit.