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Noise in schools compromises school performance

. The structural deficiencies of Spanish classrooms in terms of acoustics have led AG Bell International (www.agbellinternaional.org, an entity which works to improve the quality of life of people with deafness and deafness) to prepare the document “Accessibility hearing in schools ”, When measures are proposed to condition school spaces and recommendations to the educational community so that it becomes aware of the problem.

Studies estimate 60% of the percentage of schools that suffer from noise pollution in classrooms, produced, among other things, by reverberation from building materials and furniture. Noise pollution affects attention and learning processes in all children, with a greater impact in those whose mother tongue is not the vehicular language, in those who have attention difficulties, and in particular in hearing-impaired children. Additionally, speech noise forces teachers to raise their voices, which can lead to voice disturbances and stress.

The WHO report (2012) and many other studies highlight the effect of noise, internal and external, and of reverberation on speech intelligibility, comprehension, memory and learning to read. Therefore, controlling reverberation and noise level usually creates conditions in which it will be easier to hold students’ attention, understand messages, and improve interaction between students and teachers. Noise pollution particularly affects students who use hearing aids or cochlear implants because the reverberation negatively affects the perception of consonants, so it is essential that the school team be aware of the needs of these students in relation to the functioning of their prostheses and they assistive products that promote communication.

And what can be done to limit a problem that affects the whole school, not just the classrooms? The first step is to designate a person responsible for accessibility, who will assess the measures to be adopted using the hearing accessibility assessment questionnaire that we present in the document and will suggest the appropriate actions. The solutions range from building materials such as the installation of ceilings, walls and floors with materials that absorb sound to furniture and other common items in classrooms. Other proposals aim to reduce exterior noise (street, courtyards), such as those generated inside the center (corridors, toilets, dining room, other classrooms). It should not be forgotten that the resolution of impairments in hearing accessibility promotes academic performance.

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