Aided Perception of /s/ and /z/ by Hearing-Impaired Children


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Abstract

ObjectiveThe overall goal of this study was to determine the accuracy with which hearing-impaired children can detect the inflectional morphemes /s/ and /z/ when listening to speech through hearing aids.DesignIn the first part of the study a perceptual test was developed with equal numbers of singular and plural nouns spoken by both a male and female talker. Thirty-six normal-hearing children (3 to 5 yr) were tested to determine the age at which children could perform this test without difficulty. In the second part of the study, 40 children with bilateral sensorineural hearing losses (5 to 13 yr) were tested while wearing personal hearing aids. Stimuli were presented in the sound field at 65 dB SPL.ResultsFor the normal-hearing children, mean performance increased and inter-subject variability decreased through age 5 yr 3 mo when performance reached ≥90% for all children. No significant talker or form (plural versus singular) effects were noted for this group. For the hearing-impaired children, performance varied considerably across all ages. For these subjects, significant effects of talker and form were observed. Specifically, plural test items spoken by the female talker showed the highest error rate.ConclusionsIn general, mid-frequency audibility (2 to 4 kHz) appeared to be most important for perception of the fricative noise for the male talker while a somewhat wider frequency range (2 to 8 kHz) was important for the female talker.

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