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Can listeners hear the difference between children with normal hearing and children with a hearing impairment?

Boonen, N., Kloots, H., Verhoeven, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-0738-8517 & Gillis, S. (2018). Can listeners hear the difference between children with normal hearing and children with a hearing impairment?. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, doi: 10.1080/02699206.2018.1513564


Acoustic measurements have shown that the speech of hearing-impaired (HI) children differs from that of normally hearing (NH) children, even after several years of device use. This study focuses on the perception of HI speech in comparison to NH children’s speech. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether adult listeners can identify the speech of NH and HI children. Moreover, it is studied whether listeners’ experience and the children’s length of device use play a role in that assessment. For this study, short utterances of seven children with a cochlear implant (CI), seven children with an acoustic hearing aid (HA), and seven children with NH were presented to 90 listeners who were required to specify the hearing status of each speech sample. The judges had different degrees of familiarity with hearing disorders: there were 30 audiologists, 30 primary school teachers and 30 inexperienced listeners. The results show that the speech of children with NH and HI can reliably be identified. However, listeners do not manage to distinguish between children with CI and HA. Children with CI are increasingly identified as NH with increasing length of device use. For children with HA there is no similar change with longer device use. Also, experienced listeners seem to display a more lenient attitude towards atypical speech, whereas inexperienced listeners are stricter and generally consider more utterances to be produced by children with HI.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Language acquisition, Identification of hearing status, Dutch, Children with a cochlear implant, Children with an acoustic hearing aid
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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