March 28, 2011

Worst Kind of Room For a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Person

The worst room for a deaf and hard of hearing person to be in, if they have to communicate with many others using their auditory skills, would be a non-carpeted large room with super high ceilings. It would be even worse if the room has large windows facing a busy street. Oh wait, it would be even worse if there was also a noisy air conditioner unit that comes on frequently acting as a giant white noise generator. Actually, the only thing I can think of that would be much, much worse would be a typical school cafeteria.

Why would high ceilings and no carpet (or rugs) be bad?
  • Voices echoes in these types of rooms, distorting the way people sound, making it harder for those with hearing losses to follow.
  • It would be much noisier as sounds bounce off the walls instead of absorbing into carpets, wall hangings, or any other type of good sound absorption materials
These are things to consider if you are going to set up a workshop, class, or project that requires many people to participate in, and you know that a deaf or hard of hearing person will be attending. If you did not know or if they did not contact you to let you know, don't feel bad, it is the deaf or hard of hearing person's fault. If they start complaining, even after you ask what you can do to help, tell them that they should have contacted you first.

I have learned the hard way by just showing up at random workshops or classes I signed up for. I often forget that it is best to try to contact the teachers or presenters beforehand to inform them.


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  1. Many times I have attended meetings or conventions where conditions were not optimal, not only for hearing but also for visual needs.

    Glare from bright windows, or too-dim meeting halls, with poorly thought-out lighting for the interpreters are my bugaboos. I've often wished there was a specially trained person for these functions to focus just non the acoustics and visual aspects.

  2. That makes so much sense! I always turn off my hearing aid when I'm in a restaurant, food court, and sometimes the mall itself. The noise gets so overwhelming. I didn't stop to consider that it was the linolum floors and high ceilings. hmm.

    Don't forget noisy fans and heaters too. My classroom heater is so noisy, even the "deafer" kids hear it and are like, "eh, what's that?" lol.

  3. Aack! Noisy fans and heaters! How can I forget them.

    Even fish aquariums in a small room or classroom can be noisy, believe it or not.

  4. How about bars? Dark and noisy beyond belief... Yes, i know convo isn't the point at these things but OMG what a headache.


  5. Ugh! I hate school cafeterias! What a social wasteland for the majority of the students I work with...I'm still struggling to find a way to combat this (besides letting the kids use their phones to text friends, school said NO WAY).

  6. Wow! Let me compare your list to the desk I have to work at 4-5 hours every day. It's terrible for hearing anything.

    - Non-carpeted - the room is carpeted but very thin
    - Large - it's huge! 10,000 square feet (library)
    - Super high ceilings - the ceilings are so high people sometimes think there is a second story
    - Large windows facing a busy street - 2 of the three walls are entirely windowed, facing the parking lot
    - Noisy air conditioner - yep!

    We can't put anything on the walls because the walls could be destroyed or discolored. The desk sits in the middle of the room and there are tons of people talking. It's very difficult. Oh well... at least the job is fun. :)

    Oh - and we have an aquarium in the same room too!

  7. @Megan, that is funny (not ha ha) that what you just described mirrors what I wrote about--AND there's an aquarium?! Wow.

    Good thing you like your job! But, it must be frustrating sometimes.

    Can they at least add some rugs? Maybe put in some more furniture and plants?


Keep it civil.