Andrea Harman

Promoting accessibility and inclusion via a good acoustic environment

Prior to my work at Ecophon I had not really considered acoustics as a conscious part of room design. I knew that places appeared noisy or quiet and that some spaces were easier for my hearing impaired father to communicate in than others, but had not made the connection that something could be done to actively change the acoustic feel of a space.

Having now worked for Ecophon for many years the impact of good room acoustics and the positive effect on the people using a space is a now fundamental part of my thinking.

Working as a concept developer for healthcare in the UK has enabled me to investigate and share information about the importance of the sound environment to our health and wellbeing. This is important for everyone, but especially to people who are ill. In my work I explore how noise can act as a stressor to people who are already stressed from being a patient in hospital, examine how a restful sound environment can aid sleep which in turn links to positive recovery and explore the impact of noise on older people who frequently have impaired hearing. An area of particular focus for me has been establishing the links between a good sound environment and enablement for people with dementia, where provision of a quiet room can help reduce anxiety and promote cognition and addition of sound absorption to a communal space can help communication and interaction . This has led to me studying for a MSc. in dementia studies focussing my learning on the built environment.