March 14, 2013

Decibel Meter Apps: Handy Tools for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teachers and Students

Blue VU
Picture from Flickr: Rodger Coleman
Recently, I have been experimenting with various sound, noise, and decibel meter apps I downloaded on my Android smart phone. Using these apps with teachers and students have been tremendously helpful and fascinating. They all enjoyed learning from them. The students especially got a kick out of it and some said they were going to download the apps on their phones or ask their parents to.

Before I explain more about how I used these apps, I thought it would be helpful to give an idea of what decibels (dB) of certain sounds are generally measured at (information from PPT Presentation of School Noise Action Group, SNAG):

Whisper: 20 dB

Quiet room: 30 dB

Speech, Conversational level: 50 - 70 dB

Cafeteria: 80 dB

Accelerating motorcycle: 100 dB

Rock Concert: 120 dB

Using the apps, I was able to effectively demonstrate to some teachers how noisy the classroom can be with students quietly talking or moving around. They were astonished. In some classes, the decibel levels went up to 70 dB! In classrooms that were quiet (no one talking, students occasionally walking around) the classrooms were typically at 45-50 dB. Most unoccupied classrooms measured around 25-35 dB. How noisy some areas were depended on a lot of factors such as whether or not the door or window was open, outside environmental noises, if the air conditioner was on, thickness of the walls, how the room was furnished, how sounds echoed, etc. It is amazing how much noise computers, printers, and projectors contribute. The apps also can visibly demonstrate the difference between a non carpeted classroom and a carpeted classroom.
 
With these apps, I was able to show some teachers how much of a difference closing the classroom door to the hallway can make. This immediately made them realize how important it is that they pay more attention to background noises. It reinforced what I have been trying to get some teachers to understand. Background noises are a big deal, especially when you have a deaf or hard of hearing student in the room.
 
Whether or not the apps I use accurately measure the noise level is not important to me at this time. It is more important that I can use the apps to help visibly show teachers and students the differences in noise level in certain situations and environments. We can use the apps to help us determine where it would be best for a deaf or hard of hearing student to sit in the classroom, how the air conditioner negatively impacts the noise level in the classroom, how machines contribute to the ambient noise, how closing the door and window helps, how incredibly noisy an aquarium can be, and much more.
 
The apps I have been using are the following:
 
Noise Meter 2.1 (created by JINASYS)
 
Sound Tools 3 (created by Peco Stanoey)
 
I like these two because they are easy to use. They are not perfect and I understand that they are not the same as professional decibel or sound meters. I am still trying out other apps. Some apps that seem to work well were unfortunately loaded with advertisements or would automatically download and add apps to my phone.
 
If you know of any good Android apps for sound or decibel meters, please share!  If you know of any good apps for iPhones or iPads feel free to let us know.
 
Another fun sound related app I enjoy is called Sound Wave (created by Synaptik). It is really neat to watch!

Teachers, if you use decibel meter apps on your Android, iPhone, Tablet, or iPad, let me know what you use and how it works for you.
 
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Related Post:
School Cafeteria Noise


8 comments:

  1. That's cool. Did you know there is an app to test one's hearing. Of course, it's not 100% accurate and gives one an idea if they should have their hearing checked. My daughter tested it on herself and she said it was hard because she could hear the noise outside such as cars going by and all the nature noise. One would have to be in a sound proof room, hence the need for that when we go to an audiologist.

    I tested myself with my hearing aid, but had problems because every time the furnace hits in, it just messed up the test. I'd have to maybe go into the car one night and hope to take the test again. ;)

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    1. I have used online hearing tests with my students to help them get an idea of how much their hearing aids help (if they use them). It is an interesting exercise. I will have to check out the apps for this. It is just a matter of finding a very quiet room that can be tricky.

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    2. Would either of you happen to have links to the best hearing test online? Even if it's not perfect, I'd like to give it a try.

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    3. I'll check and see what is out there. I am in the middle of testing different apps to use with deaf and hard of hearing students. I will look at some apps with hearing tests. I'll provide links to online hearing tests as soon as I find some. Check back soon.

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  2. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.

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  3. I have used this app too. I wanted to see how loud all the regular education teachers are in the classroom. I had some who really needed to speak up a bit more. I showed them what their dB range was and found a lot of them were surprised. I even shared the app with a robotics teacher who used it in his class for a project.

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  4. Thank you - this was cool. I'm a hearing impaired physics teacher who wears hearing aids, but still experiences some issues in noisier rooms.

    We've been studying sound waves, and I wanted to use A Day Without Sound (May 1) as a springboard to raising awareness of issues regarding the HI and Deaf communities. The Android apps were especially helpful. I'm going to test out Apple apps for IPad and IPhone (I have the IPad, my students have IPhones) as well. I'll send a link to the outcome of our lessons.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you - this was cool. I'm a hearing impaired physics teacher who wears hearing aids, but still experiences some issues in noisier rooms.

    We've been studying sound waves, and I wanted to use A Day Without Sound (May 1) as a springboard to raising awareness of issues regarding the HI and Deaf communities. The Android apps were especially helpful. I'm going to test out Apple apps for IPad and IPhone (I have the IPad, my students have IPhones) as well. I'll send a link to the outcome of our lessons.

    ReplyDelete

Keep it civil.