Classroom Acoustics

Classroom Acoustics

A supplement to the standards that will address acoustics in classrooms

ANSI/ASA S12.60 Classroom Acoustics Standard

In 1998, the US Access Board joined with the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) to support the development of a classroom acoustics standard.  Stakeholders from both public and private sectors were involved.  Their work became ANSI/ASA S12.60-2002 Classroom Acoustics Standard.  Consistent with long-standing recommendations for good practice in educational settings, the standard set specific criteria for maximum background noise (35 decibels) and reverberation time (0.6 to 0.7 seconds) for unoccupied classrooms.  More recently, the Board again worked with ASA to reformat the standard.  The revised final standard, published in May 2010 and available free from ASA, separately addresses permanent schools (Part 1) and relocatable classrooms (Part 2).

Taken by itself, the standard has been voluntary unless referenced by a state code, ordinance, or regulation.  However, some school systems may require compliance with the standard as part of their construction documents for new schools, thus making the design team responsible for addressing the issues.  Parents may also find the standard useful as a guide to classroom accommodations under IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).  Various entities, including states, local jurisdictions, boards of education, and other nations have already implemented standards or directives on classroom acoustics.

Rulemaking to Supplement the ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines

The Board is undertaking rulemaking to address acoustics in classrooms by referencing the ANSI/ASA S12.60-2002.  The Board’s rulemaking will focus on adding scoping provisions to its ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines to apply the ANSI/ASA technical standard to classrooms that are newly constructed or significantly renovated.  The Board will gather information on cost impacts in preparation for a proposed rule that will be made available for public comment.