Evaluation of the Benefits of Binaural Hearing on the Telephone for Children with Hearing Loss

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Abstract

Background:

There is a paucity of published studies examining how children with hearing loss understand speech over the telephone. Previous studies on adults with hearing aids have suggested that adults with bilateral hearing aids experience significant difficulty recognizing speech on the telephone when listening with one ear, but the provision of telephone input to both ears substantially improved speech understanding.

Purpose:

The objectives of this study were to measure speech recognition in quiet and in noise for a group of older children with hearing loss over the telephone and to evaluate the effects of binaural hearing (e.g., DuoPhone) on speech recognition over the telephone.

Research Design:

A cross-sectional, repeated-measures design was used in this study.

Study Sample:

A total of 14 children, ages 6–14 yr, participated in the study. Participants were obtained using convenience sampling from a nonprofit clinic population.

Intervention:

Speech recognition in quiet and in noise with binaural versus monaural telephone input was compared in pediatric participants.

Data Collection and Analysis:

Monosyllabic word recognition was assessed in quiet and classroom noise set at 50 dBA in conditions with monaural and binaural (DuoPhone) telephone input.

Results:

The children's speech recognition in quiet and in noise was significantly better with binaural telephone input relative to monaural telephone input.

Conclusions:

To obtain optimal performance on the telephone, the following considerations may apply: (1) use of amplification with binaural streaming capabilities (e.g., DuoPhone), (2) counseling of family and children on how to best use the telephone, (3) provision of telecoil with microphone attenuation for improved signal-to-noise ratio, and (4) use of probe tube measures to verify the appropriateness of the telephone programs.

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