Recent studies have drawn attention to the less than acceptable acoustic conditions in many schools.

Noise intrudes from both interior and exterior sources, affecting speech intelligibility in the classroom. When students can’t hear clearly, they strain to listen to their teacher’s words rather than putting effort into understanding the lesson, or their concentration simply wanders.

That’s why several countries, including Australia, Canada, Sweden and the United States, have developed standards to address classroom acoustics.

But while learning is the primary activity schools host, they also accommodate administrative, nursing and counseling offices, as well as staff rooms. The activities that take place in these areas have different acoustic needs.

Telephone or in-person conversations between students, parents and staff members can involve academic, health and financial information, as well as other sensitive topics. Even if these conversations happen in closed offices, doors and even slab-to-slab walls are usually not enough to ensure speech privacy. Any gaps or penetrations can provide clear paths for overhearing discussions that should be confidential.

Furthermore, the acoustics in other areas, such as libraries and computer labs, can impact academic performance as much as those in classrooms. In these areas, conversations and noise are distracting to students engaged in activities that require a high level of concentration, such as reading, writing or studying.