09 April 2018
When you think about technology for children who are deaf or hearing impaired you probably think about hearing aids, cochlear implants and perhaps if you are a bit more familiar with hearing loss BAHA’s. These pieces of technology are, obviously, vital for children with hearing loss to learn to listen and speak, but there is more technology out there for children with hearing loss that can help their long-term development.
One of these pieces of technology is a Sound Field System.
What is a Sound Field System?
In short a Sound Field System helps to ensure that any sound that passes through the system is evenly distributed throughout a space. This sound can be from the microphone worn by a teacher or student, or through any multimedia device plugged into the system.
Where can / should a Sound Field System be used?
In this post we are focusing on using a Sound Field System in the classroom as that is their most common use, however they can be used in any place where you want people to have better access to sound. Halls for hire, religious buildings, child care centres, kindergartens, conference facilities, social clubs and sports halls are just a few of the places that can benefit from a Sound Field System.
Who can benefit from a Sound Field System?
Sound Field Systems are almost a necessity for children with hearing loss in the classroom, but the System really benefits everyone who use the space. In the classroom setting it helps all children hear and therefore, learn better and in other settings it makes for a more comfortable listening experience.
Why is a Sound Field System important in the classroom?
In the past we have written about what makes a great classroom learning environment. Three of the biggest things that make it hard to hear in any environment, but particularly a classroom are distance, background noise and reverberation (echo). Sound Field Systems can help reduce the impact of distance and background noise. Ways to reduce reverberation are covered in the previously mentioned blog post.
Obviously, the further back in a room you are from the source of a sound the harder it is going to be to hear. Research has shown that from the front to the back of a typical classroom the percentage of information that students hear declines from 83% to 55%. That means that a child standing at the back of a class may only hear about half of what is being taught.(1)
Because a Sound Field evenly distributed the sound throughout the classroom a child standing next to the teacher hears the same amount as a child sitting right at the back. For a child with a hearing loss this can be a big positive. Sometimes being singled out to sit at the front because you can’t hear as well can be another reminder that you are different to your classmates; something which school aged children can often find uncomfortable and upsetting.
Any room that has 20 to 30 children in it is going to be noisy, no matter how much they are supposed to be concentrating on their work! Take that together with traffic noise from outside, noise from adjoining classrooms and all of the other general noise that happens around us and background noise can pose a big problem for children trying to learn.
In fact, in the average classroom the background noise is 50-60dB (1). This means that the teacher has to talk at a level above 50-60dB to be heard at all. As well as making it harder for children to understand the teacher, having to talk at an increased volume all the time can lead to physical problems for teachers; hoarseness, fatigue and other vocal problems.
The Sound Field System allows the teacher to flick and switch and their voice be louder. This can reduce many of the problems of background loss.
What are the benefits of using a Sound Field System in the classroom?
For children with a hearing loss the Sound Field System simply makes it easier to hear and subsequently learn, but the benefits for every child in the class are great.
In some classrooms the reading scores of first grade students jumped from 59% to 89% following the introduction of a Sound Field System (2) and in another project 96% of teachers found that student attentiveness, listening and comprehension improved using their Sound Field System (3).
In short a Sound Field System makes it easier for all children to listen, so they can learn better.
If you would like to learn more about Sound Field System please drop us a line.
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