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Poor room acoustics impairs sport teachers´ hearing

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Dutch sports teachers (PE teachers) sued their employers for suffering serious hearing impairment because of working in a poor acoustic environment. The schools that employed the PE teachers compensate the teachers financially.

The Dutch Royal Society of Physical Exercise Teachers (KVLO) http://www.kvlo.nl/ supports the teachers in this matter.

On September 10th (2008) an article occurred in the Dutch national press. Some sports teachers (PE teachers) sued their employers for suffering serious hearing impairment because of working in a poor acoustic environment.
The Dutch Royal Society of Physical Exercise Teachers (KVLO) supports the teachers in this matter. At their website you can find intersting material (in Dutch) such as acoustic guidelines
Off course bad acoustics is not a new problem! In 2002 Baukje Zandstra of KVLO published a report about teachers with hearing problems, vocal problems, fatigue and stress.
This was one of the main reasons for a stricter Dutch Standard which was implemented in 2005.
Most of the time multidisciplinary sports accommodations have hard floors, walls and ceilings. This in combination with the large volume causes high noise levels and a lot of reverberation.
When the teacher uses his/her voice to teach, it is very difficult for students to pick up speech. Especially in a noisy environment like a sports hall where the teachers voice needs to cover long distances this becomes very hard. This means the teacher needs to raise his voice in an unnatural way.
Besides that it is unsafe. In emergency situations the teacher should be able to react quickly. This means he or she has to be able to hear what happened and to locate the spot where his/her attention is needed.
In rooms with high, long parallel walls, like sports halls, annoying flutter echoes occur.
In sports halls we often see reverberation times from over 3.0 seconds and sound levels of over 80 dB(A) on a regular basis.
When choosing sound absorbing materials for walls and or ceilings it is very important to use materials which have good absorption also in the lower frequencies. If you don’t take this in account, you will have problems with meeting the standard for the maximum reverberation time per frequency.
Besides that it is very important that the chosen materials are suitable for high mechanical impact.

Educational Environments 178

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