Perception of sentences, words, and speech features by profoundly hearing-impaired children using a multichannel electrotactile speech processor

R. S C Cowan, P. J. Blarney, K. L. Galvin, J. Z. Sarant, J. Alcántara, G. M. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fourteen prelinguistically profoundly hearing-impaired children were fitted with the multichannel electrotactile speech processor (Tickle Talker) developed by Cochlear Pty. Ltd. and the University of Melbourne. Each child participated in an ongoing training and evaluation program, which included measures of speech perception and production. Results of speech perception testing demonstrate clear benefits for children fitted with the device. Thresholds for detection of pure tones were lower for the Tickle Talker than for hearing aids across the frequency range 250–4000 Hz, with the greatest tactual advantage in the high-frequency consonant range (above 2000 Hz). Individual and mean speech detection thresholds for the Ling 5-sound test confirmed that speech sounds were detected by the electrotactile device at levels consistent with normal conversational speech. Results for three speech feature tests showed significant improvement when the Tickle Talker was used in combination with hearing aids (TA) as compared with hearing aids along (A). Mean scores in the TA condition increased by 11% for vowel duration, 20% for vowel formant, and 25% for consonant manner as compared with hearing aids alone. Mean TA score on a closed-set word test (WIPI) was 48%, as compared with 32% for hearing aids alone. Similarly, mean WIPI score for the combination of Tickle Talker, lipreading, and hearing aids (TLA) increased by 6% as compared with combined lipreading and hearing aid (LA) scores. Mean scores on open-set sentences (BKB) showed a significant increase of 21% for the tactually aided condition (TLA) as compared with unaided (LA). These results indicate that, given sufficient training, children can utilize speech feature information provided through the Tickle Talker to improve discrimination of words and sentences. These results indicate that, given sufficient training, children can utilize speech feature information provided through the Tickle Talker to improve discrimination of words and sentences. These results are consistent with improvement in speech discrimination previously reported for normally hearing and hearing-impaired adults using the device. Anecdotal evidence also indicates some improvements in speech production for children fitted with the Tickle Talker.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1374-1384
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume88
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

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