How Well Can Children Recognize Speech Features in Spectrograms? Comparisons by Age and Hearing Status Real-time spectrographic displays (SDs) have been used in speech training for more than 30 years with adults and children who have severe and profound hearing impairments. Despite positive outcomes from treatment studies, concerns remain that the complex and abstract nature of spectrograms may make these speech training aids unsuitable for ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2004
How Well Can Children Recognize Speech Features in Spectrograms? Comparisons by Age and Hearing Status
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • David J. Ertmer
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: dertmer@purdue.edu
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2004
How Well Can Children Recognize Speech Features in Spectrograms? Comparisons by Age and Hearing Status
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2004, Vol. 47, 484-495. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/038)
History: Received September 30, 2003 , Accepted November 19, 2003
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2004, Vol. 47, 484-495. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/038)
History: Received September 30, 2003; Accepted November 19, 2003
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Real-time spectrographic displays (SDs) have been used in speech training for more than 30 years with adults and children who have severe and profound hearing impairments. Despite positive outcomes from treatment studies, concerns remain that the complex and abstract nature of spectrograms may make these speech training aids unsuitable for use with children. This investigation examined how well children with normal hearing sensitivity and children with impaired hearing can recognize spectrographic cues for vowels and consonants, and the ages at which these visual cues are distinguished. Sixty children (30 with normal hearing sensitivity, 30 with hearing impairments) in 3 age groups (6–7, 8–9, and 10–11 years) were familiarized with the spectrographic characteristics of selected vowels and consonants. The children were then tested on their ability to select a match for a model spectrogram from among 3 choices. Overall scores indicated that spectrographic cues were recognized with greater-than-chance accuracy by all age groups. Formant contrasts were recognized with greater accuracy than consonant manner contrasts. Children with normal hearing sensitivity and those with hearing impairment performed equally well.

Acknowledgments
A sincere “thank you” is offered to the children who participated in the study and to their parents. In addition, the cooperation of the administrators and teachers of the Central Institute for the Deaf and St. Joseph’s Institute of St. Louis, MO, and the Lafayette School Corporation and Amelia Earhart School of Lafayette, IN, is gratefully recognized. Thanks also to the Purdue University students who participated in this project: Nichole Colvin, Ann Crowder-Miller, Karen Dobrynski, Stacy Koleszar, Jennifer Mellon, Mandi Meyers, and Erin Zimmerman. Jean Maki contributed feedback and key ideas as this study was being designed. A complimentary copy of SpeechPrism Pro software was provided by Language Vision, Inc., Idaho Falls, ID.
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