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Speakers Comfort and voice disorders in classrooms

Authors: Jonas Brunskog, Viveka Lyberg Åhlander, Anders Löfqvist, David Pelegrin Garcia, Roland Rydell

An overall aim of the project has been to investigate the voice use of teachers in relation to the acoustic properties of the classroom, and to study whether speakers take into account auditory cues to regulate their voice levels, even in the absence of background noise. The most common means of communication in a classroom is speaking and listening. The teacher's voice is thus the tool for communicating with the students. The room acoustics in the classroom is the communication channel from the speaker to the listener. It affects the quality of the speech signal and thus the ability to understand what the teacher says. During the last decades, an increasing focus has been put on teachers’ voice and the consequences of vocal problems. A study from the mid 90’s on voice and occupations in Sweden identified teachers as the most common occupational group at voice clinics, based on the percentage of the total number of teachers in the population at that time. The prevalence of voice problems in Swedish teachers is, however, largely a substantial number of unrecorded cases since teachers rarely seem to seek help for their voice problems. Voice difficulties at work seem to be regarded as more of an individual problem – depending on the individual’s innate capacities or voice use or “abuse” – than as an occupational hazard. It has been estimated that the yearly costs for sick-days and treatment in US teachers amount to US$2, 5 billion. There have been many studies trying to optimize the acoustical conditions for the students, in terms of measures of the speech intelligibility, signal-to-noise ratios, or reverberation time. Most of these studies have focused on the listener, but it has also been pointed out that a low reverberation time may affect teachers' voice.

The publication can be found here.


Jonas Brunskog, Viveka Lyberg Åhlander, Anders Löfqvist, David Pelegrin Garcia, Roland Rydell

Publications from Sound Environment Centre at Lund University No. 10

ISSN: 1653-9354