31 Mar Rating the overall speech quality of hearing-impaired children by means of comparative judgements
Nathalie Boonen, Hanne Kloots & Steven Gillis
The trio works in Computational Linguistics & Psycholinguistics Research Centre, University of Antwerp, Belgium
Acoustic measurements have shown that the speech of hearing-impaired (HI) children deviates from the speech of normally hearing (NH) peers. The aim of the present study is to examine whether listeners with varying degrees of experience with (HI) children’s speech perceive a difference in the overall speech quality of seven-year-old NH children and their HI peers who received a device before the age of two.
Short speech samples of seven children with NH, seven children with an acoustic hearing aid (HA) and seven children with a cochlear implant (CI) were judged by three groups of listeners (audiologists, primary school teachers and inexperienced listeners) in a comparative judgement task. In this task, listeners compared stimuli in pairs and decided which stimulus sounded better, leading to a ranking of the stimuli according to their overall speech quality.
The ranking showed that the overall speech quality differed considerably for HI and NH children. The latter group had a significantly higher overall speech quality than HI children. In the group of HI children, children with CI were ranked higher than children with HA. Moreover, length of device use was found to have a significant effect in the group of children with CI: longer device experience led to better ratings. This effect was significantly less strong in HA children. No significant differences were found between the three groups of listeners.
Listeners agree that the speech of NH children sounds better than the speech of HI children. This result indicates that even after almost seven years of device use, the speech of HI children still differs from the speech of NH children. The overall speech quality of CI children was better than that of HA children, and this effect increased with longer device use. No effect of listeners’ experience with (NH and/or HI) children’s speech was established.
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