Are those with hearing loss included in the Design Process?
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
Are the needs of over 12 million people (including me) with hearing loss forgotten about in the design of architectural spaces?
As someone with severe hearing loss and loud tinnitus (ringing in the ears), I face a vast array of daily challenges. Challenges that hearing people may not even realise could be a potential challenge. And one of those things is absolute awful acoustics in buildings.
The first and worst acoustic annoyance is the echo. Echo occurs when buildings have a large amount of hard surfaces and barely any soft. So that may be large atrium's, steel and glass structures. The second is lighting. Dimmed lighting may be a nice, calming design attribute to an interior, but it is almost impossible for a hearing impaired person to sufficiently lip read. Vice versa also applies when the speaker is standing in front of a lovely bright glass window which forces people to squint their eyes.
There are more, but for me personally, these are the worst occurrences within the interior of buildings. I strongly believe that sound absorption methods should be taken into account when there is any scope for potential considerations at the beginning of the design stage of a new environment. This can help those with hearing loss (again, over 12 million people) communicate a little easier and decrease reverberation which limits potential disturbance.