Phonological processes in the speech of school-age children with hearing loss

comparisons with children with normal hearing

Areej Nimer Asad*, Suzanne C. Purdy, Elaine Ballard, Liz Fairgray, Caroline Bowen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: In this descriptive study, phonological processes were examined in the speech of children aged 5;0–7;6 (years; months) with mild to profound hearing loss using hearing aids (HAs) and cochlear implants (CIs), in comparison to their peers. A second aim was to compare phonological processes of HA and CI users. Method: Children with hearing loss (CWHL, N = 25) were compared to children with normal hearing (CWNH, N = 30) with similar age, gender, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Speech samples obtained from a list of 88 words, derived from three standardized speech tests, were analyzed using the CASALA (Computer Aided Speech and Language Analysis) program to evaluate participants’ phonological systems, based on lax (a process appeared at least twice in the speech of at least two children) and strict (a process appeared at least five times in the speech of at least two children) counting criteria. Results: Developmental phonological processes were eliminated in the speech of younger and older CWNH while eleven developmental phonological processes persisted in the speech of both age groups of CWHL. CWHL showed a similar trend of age of elimination to CWNH, but at a slower rate. Children with HAs and CIs produced similar phonological processes. Final consonant deletion, weak syllable deletion, backing, and glottal replacement were present in the speech of HA users, affecting their overall speech intelligibility. Conclusions: Developmental and non-developmental phonological processes persist in the speech of children with mild to profound hearing loss compared to their peers with typical hearing. The findings indicate that it is important for clinicians to consider phonological assessment in pre-school CWHL and the use of evidence-based speech therapy in order to reduce non-developmental and non-age-appropriate developmental processes, thereby enhancing their speech intelligibility.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)10-22
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


    • phonological processes
    • children with normal hearing
    • cochlear implant
    • hearing aid
    • hearing loss
    • speech production

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