The Importance of Childrens' Hearing

Having been diagnosed with a hearing loss makes one sensitive to the plight of others. Learning more about it only makes one more sensitive. In 35 years of designing the acoustics for major buildings, theatres, concert halls and the like, I can only remember doing one or two schools for children.

The formative years for language are between three and five, perhaps a bit more. A recent study has shown that hard of hearing children need to hear a word three times more frequently than a normal hearing child before that word can enter his or her lexicon. Concert halls and theatres get a lot of acoustical attention but the people sitting in those seats have heard it all before. In a kindergarten or Grade 1 class, the children have never heard many of those words before.

So why can’t we apply all the acoustical advances that we’ve learned to make concert halls and theatres better to the people who could benefit from it most – children.

O’Keefe Acoustics would like to pioneer the interest in, and the educated design of, the acoustics for school rooms for younger age children.