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Follow up to the October 1996
Canadian Acoustical Association Session

Providing Speech Intelligibility
in Public Spaces

by Barry McKinnon

The Canadian Acoustical Association meeting in Calgary, Canada in October '96 was the date set for the roundtable discussion on this issue. We had a group of acoustical consultants, sound contractors and construction industry regulators together to discuss speech intelligibility in public spaces.

A number of important issues were discussed as part of an overall view of the problem. Classroom acoustics, life safety systems, speech intelligibility as a hearing impaired accessibility issue, and speech intelligibility in public assembly areas were the primary concerns. The group discussed the importance of defining the criteria for speech intelligibility and the methods of measuring it. The group is assembling information on current acoustical profession standards, and existing regulations governing speech intelligibility such as the International Electro-Technical Committee (IEC 268 and IEC 849), to develop a set of recommendations to put forward to the CAA. These recommendations would present the Life Safety system issues as a recommended standard for a building code regulation, while the classroom acoustics and public space speech intelligibility would be presented as a guideline for acoustical design. It is hoped that the guidelines may eventually become a set of minimum code requirements. If you are interested in participating in this discussion group, or have information you would like to contribute, e-mail or snail-mail it to the address below. See the Systems Contractor News article on Life Safety System Safety.

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