Noise accommodations

Yes, please!

Goodbye awkwardness, hello quiet!

Salon offers quiet chair to avoid awkward small talk.  Sonia Haria, The Telegraph, reports that the salon, located in Cardiff, Wales, introduced a ‘quiet chair’ “so clients can get their hair done without feeling the pressure of making small-talk.” The owner of the salon stated that “[s]ome clients worry they aren’t good at chatting, some just don’t want to do it at all and would rather relax with a magazine.”  We understand. This is a brilliant idea. Customers can request the quiet chair when they book their appointment, and if there’s more than one customer who would rather avoid conversation at the same time, “any stylist can be told to keep it quiet.” And then there’s the bit we really like: “Even the music can be turned down at the client’s request.”

It’s a long flight to Cardiff, but a small price to pay for a peaceful haircut.

Link via Hyperacusis Research.

This sounds like clickbait but it isn’t:

Try this one trick to hear people better at parties. And the trick is?  “People in noisy situations should face slightly away from the person they’re listening to and turn one ear towards the speech.”  A new study, funded by UK charity Action on Hearing Loss, finds this technique is a particularly helpful listening tactic for cochlear implant users, and is “compatible with lip-reading, which was unaffected by a modest, 30-degree head orientation.”

Click the link above to learn more about why this technique works and to watch the video at the bottom of the webpage on binaural audio (or how to record sound so it sounds like it does in your head).

 

If this works, could it lead to lower siren volumes?

Stockholm ambulances to trial blocking drivers’ music so sirens can be heard. The Telegraph reports that a new alert system is being trialed in Stockholm, Sweden that “overrides loud music and bypasses sound-proofed car insulation so drivers will never be caught off guard by an approaching emergency vehicle.”  The new system “uses the FM radio signal to jam drivers’ speakers and send a voice alert that an ambulance is approaching.”  The reason for the new system was the realization that drivers often had only seconds to react to a siren when the a better warning time is at least 10 to 15 seconds. The alert will only work on cars that have the radio on, but it’s estimated that it will reach two-thirds of the cars on the road.

If this system works, one would hope that emergency vehicle sirens could be adjusted so that pedestrians and other people nearby could be spared ear-splitting siren volumes in the attempt to alert distracted motorists. It doesn’t hurt to dream.

Link via Quiet Edinburgh.

Now showing at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017:

Orosound’s Tilde Noise Management Earphones

Orosound’s ‘noise-managing’ earphones hush unwanted sounds. While we appreciate tech startups that focus how we can manage noisy environments, we can’t help but to point out the obvious: Instead of developing gadgets that allow people to limit the noise invading their personal soundscape, why not limit the noise at its source? Just a thought.

Until that happens–in our lifetimes, one hopes–we will report on the products and services you can use to keep unwanted sound at bay and control the soundscape of your slice of the world.

Is It Safe to Turn Down the Volume of Hospital Alarms?

New Study Chimes In: “Yes.” If you have ever spent any time in a hospital, whether as a visitor or especially as a patient, you probably wondered how the patients sleep with the constant din caused by monitors, particularly the alarms. The answer, apparently, is “they can’t.” While some sort of alarm is needed to alert staff when a patient is having a crisis, Anesthesiology News reports that “[t]he overabundance and high volume of hospital alarms can have deleterious effects on patients and providers, impairing clinician performance and possibly compromising patient safety (citation omitted).” The good news? The study’s author found that “clinician performance is maintained with alarms that are softer than background noise.”

Coming soon to a hospital near you: A good night’s rest!

 

Time is up for ear-blasting technology,

peaceful washrooms are back.  Do you find the noise produced by electric hand dryers to be jarring or even painful?  You’re not alone.  All electric hand dryers make noise, but some are worse than others, “causing discomfort to all, and unnecessary stress to those with hypersensitivity to noise, hearing problems or conditions such as dementia and autism.”   Fortunately, a quieter alternative may be around the corner.  Quiet Mark announces the launch of its review of hand dryers, stating that it:

[T]ested a broad range of hand dryers and only the quietest, high-performance machines achieved a Quiet Mark award. This universal symbol makes it easier for those in charge of restaurants, bars, leisure centres, shops, libraries, hospitals and public conveniences to consider sound levels when assessing hand dryers for their venues.

Quiet Mark’s testing uses real-life testing environments for accurate result, because “the sound levels of hand dryers in real-life situations have often been underestimated.”  Among other things, Quiet Mark notes that hand dryers are:

[C]ommonly tested in ultra-absorbent acoustic laboratories, rather than in highly reverberant washrooms and toilets, where their loud motor noise can be uncomfortably amplified. They may also be tested without human hands in the airflow, which can add up to 10dB in some cases. The combination of these factors means that the machine can be twice as loud as some test results might show.

You can see Quiet Mark’s review of hand dryers here.

One simple accommodation to help those with hearing disabilities:

Dr. Daniel Fink, a leading noise activist, responds to New York Times’s article, “Becoming Disabled,” by offering a simple, effective, and no-cost accommodation to assist those with hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis: turn down the volume of the amplified sound!  As Dr. Fink points out, “[d]isability accommodations benefit everyone, not just those with disabilities.”  Turning down the volume in places of public accommodation will make them more accessible to those with hearing disabilities, provide a quieter environment for everyone present, and could, in fact, protect those not afflicted from joining the ranks of people with hearing injury.

Dr. Fink encourages anyone with a hearing disability whose request for accommodation was ignored to file a complaint with the local agency charged with protecting the rights of the disabled.  In New York City residents can file a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights.

 

 

We want walls:

the future of office design – and the demise of open plan.   God willing.

Open floor plans, particularly poorly executed plans that are intended to shove as many bodies into the smallest possible space, hurt employee morale and interfere with work.  Many employees may resent a perceived loss of status as they are removed from offices and given a space for which there is little or no privacy.  But open floor plans do more than hurt employees’ self-esteem.  Dr Matthew Davis, a professor of the psychology of office design at Leeds University Business School, has researched “the poor hygiene and frequent distractions of open-plan offices,” with one report finding that “the loss of productivity [was] so great in an open-plan office that it outweigh[ed] the money saved by putting everyone in the same room.”

So what is business doing in response?  Apparently, “organisations are now seeking flexible, modern offices with private pods where workers can hunker down without interruption, with protocols such as no talking on mobile phones, for instance, and no eating.”  Or perhaps your employer will invest in a “chair with zip-up sides.”

Or CEOs could stop listening to the finance guys when making decisions about workplace design and opt for space that lets their employees do their work.  Just throwing that out there.

Link via @QuietMark.

Broadway shows that it cares:

Broadway’s LION KING, ALADDIN and More to Offer Autism Friendly Performances This Year.

Broadway World writes about the Theater Development Fund (TDF), a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, makes autism-friendly theater available through its Autism Theatre Initiative (ATI), which operates under the umbrella of TDF’s Accessibility Programs.  How does the TDF make theater “autism friendly?”  Broadway World explains:

To create an autism-friendly setting, the shows are performed in a friendly, supportive environment for an audience of families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues. Slight adjustments to the production will include reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights focused into the audience. In the theatre lobby there will be staffed quiet and play areas, if anyone needs to leave their seats during the performance.

For more information about the ATI or to order tickets for autism-friendly performances, click here.

Thanks to Jenn Leonard for the link.