Sensitive Hearers and Particular Hearing Requirements Within the Urban Soundscape

Drever, John L.. 2014. 'Sensitive Hearers and Particular Hearing Requirements Within the Urban Soundscape'. In: Urban Soundscapes and Critical Citizenship: an interdisciplinary conference. University of Limerick. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Through an initial survey of the impact of the exposure to the noise from high- speed hand dryers in publically accessible toilets, Drever’s research uncovered a wide range of vulnerable groups that due to the sensitivity of their hearing or particular hearing requirements led to elevated anxiety, fear, pain and confusion and were in some cases exacerbating their social avoidance. These groups included infants; the elderly; partially sighted people; hearing aid users; and people with dementia, cerebral palsy, Ménière's disease, phonophobia, hyperacusis, or hyperacute hearing in the context of autism and Asperger's syndrome. The cause of this noise issue is a combination of product design, architectural design, and complete lack of guidance and standards regarding toilet provision and acoustics and noise control. On the other hand the lack of acoustic privacy provided by a certain level of background noise can lead to a range of health issues including paruresis and parcopresis. Through interviews Drever has followed up this research with a wider study on the impact of everyday urban noise on these vulnerable groups. The study raises pressing accessibility issues related to education, the workplace and access to the public sphere in general. Drever’s paper will outline the key themes arising from a review of the interview material from the vulnerable subgroups, discussing how these insights can inform a debate around critical citizenship and urban design.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Unit for Sound Practice Research


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Event Location:

University of Limerick

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

19 May 2015 14:22

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 09:33


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