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American National Standard on Classroom Acoustics

What is the ANSI standard?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), along with efforts of the U.S. Access Board, Acoustical Society of America, created the ANSI S12.60-2002, Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements and Guidelines for Schools standard. Through specific design requirements and acoustical performance criteria, the standard tries to create a classroom environment that optimizes speech understanding.

In 2004, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's (ASHA's) Working Group on Classroom Acoustics recommended that an appropriate acoustical environment be established in all classrooms and learning spaces. ASHA endorses the ANSI standard and recommends the following criteria for classroom acoustics:

  1. Unoccupied classroom levels must not exceed 35 dBA
  2. The signal-to-noise ratio (the difference between the teacher's voice and the background noise) should be at least +15 dB at the child's ears.
  3. Unoccupied classroom reverberation must not surpass 0.6 seconds in smaller classrooms or 0.7 seconds in larger rooms

Compliance with the ANSI standard is voluntary but many school districts and state and local agencies have adopted the standard as a part of their construction or renovation requirements for schools. Parents, teachers, audiologists, and speech-language pathologists can help promote good classroom acoustics for their schools. Learn the facts and share information about creating a good listening environment for all children. A copy of the ANSI standard is available from the Acoustical Society of America:

  • ANSI/ASA S12.60-2010/Part 1, American National Standard Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, and Guidelines for Schools, Part 1: Permanent Schools (free download) 
  • ANSI/ASA S12.60-2009/Part 2, American National Standard Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, and Guidelines for Schools, Part 2: Relocatable Classroom Factors (free download)  

Additional information can be found in the following ASHA policy documents:

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