The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) provides education, therapy, and cochlear implant services for children and adults with vision or hearing loss, their families, and the professionals who support them.
Through the RIDBC Preschool Support Program, our specialist preschools support children who have hearing or vision impairment. We also support children who have hearing or vision impairment in mainstream preschool settings.
A common feature among preschools is that they operate in open-plan spaces to accommodate learning through play whilst affording staff the opportunity for ease of supervision. Open-plan spaces whilst ideal for accommodating the play-based curricula of groups of children, typically have poorer acoustics. The effectiveness of the RIDBC Preschool Support Program can be limited if the children attend early childhood environments that are severely impacted by noise. Therefore, RIDBC decided to develop a full acoustic assessment of the mainstream early childhood settings where children supported by RIDBC teachers and therapists attend.
The James N. Kirby Foundation co-funded the development of an Acoustic Assessment Program designed to be delivered to educators in mainstream preschools programs. The funding assisted with the development of the processes, establishing the measurement criteria and reporting format, training RIDBC staff, and implementing the service.
The findings from the initial assessment program found that the types of mainstream programs into which children with sensory impairment are being placed, and the environments in which the programs operate, vary greatly. Based on the findings, recommendations were made to educators in mainstream preschools about ways to improve the environment and the methods in which children’s activities are best conducted to reduce noise levels.
We sincerely thank the James N. Kirby Foundation for helping make this program possible.