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Opinion: Langara Could Do More to Bring Attention to Sensory Conditions

The sensory impairment can be a barrier to learning for some

Reporter Desirée Garcia
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Reported by Desirée Garcia

While a silent campus is an impossible goal, colleges could do more to curb unnecessary noise and make life easier for students with sound-sensitivity.

What is Misophonia?

Misophonia, a sensory impairment, is an extreme sensitivity to everyday sounds, such as chewing food, sniffing or clicking a pen. Although most people don’t know that the condition exists, it can be a barrier to learning for some as, according to sufferers, certain trigger sounds produce strong reactions, including anger, anxiety and panic.

Numerous studies have attested to the existence of misophonia, but the condition is still being researched and understood. The most convincing study, reported in 2014, found that misophonia affects approximately four per cent of the overall population.  Despite the relative rarity of this condition there are reasonable steps colleges like Langara could take to create a more tolerable soundscape, along the same lines as their scent-free campus initiative.

Four per cent of the overall population has misophonia

Currently, the college strives to be an odour-free environment, with posters scattered around the school to bring awareness to those who have sensitivities to perfumes and colognes. Although it’s difficult to stop students from slurping their soup or sniffling into a Kleenex, Langara could start a similar initiative by displaying posters around campus to remind students and staff that some among us struggle with sound induced stress.

This week the psychology department hosted a campus screening of a documentary entitled Quiet Please…, which explores misophonia. This is a laudable step however the college can go beyond showing a movie. For example, a common trigger of misophonia involves the sound of eating food. In order to accommodate those who are sound-sensitive, but who may be too shy to ask classmates to stop eating, eating should only be allowed outside of class time.

Small changes such as these could start a conversation without severely inconveniencing the wider school population.

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