Book: Essays in Speech Processes
Chapter: Linguistic Considerations for Persons with Hearing Loss
Many individuals who purchase hearing aids do not successfully use them. There are many reasons that may account for the “dresser drawer” hearing aids, some of which might be related to the way they are selected, programmed, or dispensed. Most professionals who fit hearing aids are now trained on manufacturer software that results in prescribed gain based on the users’ hearing thresholds. Without knowledge of the linguistic features of speech that may be distorted by the hearing loss, critical design elements in these assistive devices may have been overlooked. Furthermore, the hearing aid facilitates just one component of the communication process, the reception of the acoustic elements of the speech signal. The user must also learn ways to effectively inform the speaker of modifications to the rate of speech, environmental noise or lighting, and group dynamics that may provide as much benefit as an expensive ear-level instrument. The chapter provides a report on the development of improved rehabilitative techniques that extend beyond simply making speech audible for persons who experience communication challenges related to hearing loss.