Interview Room Acoustics – A Case Study

The Children’s Advocacy Center in Fort Myers, Florida has dedicated more than 30 years to improving the lives of children and their families. The Center provides abuse determination services, therapeutic counseling, parenting education, and prevention programs to more than 2,000 families and children each year in a four-county area of Southwest Florida.

Crucial to the success of the Center are their child-friendly forensic interview rooms. These three rooms are used to obtain forensic interviews, assessments and evaluations that are often used as evidence in court.

Identified Problem: Reduced Intelligibility During Recordings

In order to guarantee crystal clear recordings, these interview rooms need to be completely free from reverberation, echo and background noise. The statements, phrases and critical words uttered by an interviewee on a poor quality recording can be ruled inadmissible or regarded with suspicion in a court setting. Furthermore, the process of interviewing a traumatized child can induce additional emotional stress, and therefore, the first and primary interview must be of highest quality and cannot be compromised.

High quality recordings could not be obtained in the current environment of the CAC’s interview rooms.   Sound quality was diminished by the presence of HVAC and outside noise, making it difficult to clearly understand what the child was saying.  The Child Advocacy Center contacted ATS for advice on noise applications that could improve the quality of their recordings.

Treatment Provided: Acoustic Panels for Noise Control

The three interview rooms were approximately 10” x 10” with 8” drop ceilings.  Although wall-to-wall carpeting offered some noise dampening benefits, additional noise applications were needed for sufficient noise control.   After completing a room analysis for the CAC, it was determined that each room would benefit from eight 24″ x 48″ panels with a 2″ thickness.

The panels were manufactured in royal blue color to blend with the room’s ocean themes. ATS donated the panels to the Center.

Results: Positive Differences in Sound Quality

The Acoustic Panels not only worked to improve the sound quality of the recordings, but they also provided a bright spot in the rooms. “The panels have made positive differences in the sound quality of the recordings,” says Monica Lange, Case Coordinator-Child Protection Team. “ They enable us to better advocate for clients by providing higher quality recordings to law enforcement and the Florida Department of Children and Families. In addition, the panels will create and increased sense of safety for the children to share their stories.”