Congressman Scott Introduces School Construction Legislation Featuring Excessive Classroom Noise Provisions

May 21, 2017

Representative Robert "Bobby" Scott (D-VA) introduced the Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2017, on Wednesday, May 17. 2017. Similar to previous school construction legislation, this version, at ASHA's request, contains provisions allowing for grant recipients and bond issuers to use their funding to address excessive classroom noise issues. Further, in addition to a number of other building elements, schools would have to report on the condition of their classroom ceilings and windows and key acoustical features of classrooms.


A student's ability to hear and understand communications in the classroom is vital for learning. Unfortunately, a noisy classroom reduces this ability. Excessive classroom noise and poor acoustics occur when the background noise and/or the amount of reverberation in the classroom are so high that they interfere with learning and teaching. Poor classroom acoustics affect speech intelligibility, reading and spelling ability, behavior in the classroom, attention and concentration, and academic achievement.

Excessive classroom noise and poor acoustics can also affect the teacher. Teachers use their voices for approximately 60% of their workday. The strain on the voice gets worse when the teacher has to talk louder than usual to overcome poor classroom acoustics. Studies have shown that teachers are 32 times more likely to have voice problems than individuals with other occupations.

ASHA Resources

Advocating on legislative and regulatory efforts related to classroom acoustics supports the hearing health care issue enumerated in ASHA's 2017 Public Policy Agenda. For more information, visit ASHA's Classroom Acoustics webpage or contact Neil Snyder, ASHA's director of federal advocacy, at or 202-624-7750. 

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