Update on AIIC research project on acoustic shocks

Main findings of Phase 1 – the evaluation of the prevalence of acoustic shocks among AIIC members


In July 2019, AIIC's Advisory Board and Executive Committee tasked the Research Committee, the Technical and Health Committee and the Canada Region with working with Dr Fournier, of Aix-Marseille University, to investigate acoustic shocks among conference interpreters with a view to drafting guidelines for interpreters and equipment providers.


Phase 1 main findings

The first phase of the project consisted of an evaluation of the prevalence of acoustic shocks among AIIC members through a survey sent early October. Approximately one third of the membership completed Phase 1, with 1035 members from all over the world responding to the survey. The interest and enthusiasm generated were quite notable and we have received numerous and very insightful comments.

Preliminary results

 Acoustic Shocks Prevalence

The preliminary analysis of the data reveals that 47.1% of the respondents (n=488) have experienced an acoustic shock in the course of their work. 32.4% have not and 20.5% reported "I don’t know". The term acoustic shock was defined in the survey as an exposure to a loud, brief and unexpected sound that may trigger multiple symptoms such as temporary hearing loss, tinnitus, auditory hypersensitivity, aural fullness, pain, dizziness and headaches.

These results suggest that experiencing an acoustic shock is very prevalent among conference interpreters, but also that more work needs to be done to educate professionals to identify what an acoustic shock is.   

AIIC respondents: incidence of acoustic shock

Headset(s) as the transducer

95.3% of respondents were wearing headsets when the acoustic shock(s) occurred.   

Not reporting the incident

76.6 % of respondents did not officially report the incident(s), but 18.4% did. The absence of a reporting procedure, and not knowing who to report the incident to, were the main reasons put forward by the respondents. 


Upcoming Phase 2

A thorough analysis of the responses to the Phase 1 survey is currently in progress.

In parallel, the second phase of the project will be launched mid-January 2020. Most of the participants who have experienced an acoustic shock have showed their interest in participating in Phase 2 and will be contacted to complete a more thorough questionnaire about their symptomatology.


Thank you again for your interest and participation,

Philippe Fournier (Aix-Marseille University); Marc Orlando (Research Committee); Gabriella Verdi & Klaus Ziegler (Technical & Health Committee); Linda Ballantyne (Canada region). 



Recommended citation format:
Research,Technical Committee. "Update on AIIC research project on acoustic shocks". aiic-usa.com December 17, 2019. Accessed February 27, 2020. <http://aiic-usa.com/p/8902>.