Classroom Acoustics in the Postsecondary Environment: A Case for Universal Design
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It is widely known that student hearing is key to academic success in classrooms where spoken communication comprises the majority of instruction. Hearing affects learning for students of all ages. This researched aims to assess the acoustic conditions of classrooms in the postsecondary environment and to ascertain why these rooms lack in proper design. College students are not required by law or policy to disclose a disability to their institution of higher education. This can present significant learning challenges to students otherwise assimilated into collegiate life. Research was conducted to review the American National Standards Institute s12.60-2002 standards for classrooms, determine problematic classrooms at the University, measure the acoustics, then recommend improvements for design and proper communication. Recommendations were based on the Universal Design movement, which emphasizes good design for all. Results demonstrated that most classrooms at the University at Buffalo did not meet all ANSI standards. The poor acoustic performance clearly has an impact on many students, not just students with hearing impairments. Furthermore, a survey suggests that subjective student experiences point to other, non-acoustic hearing issues worth researching further.