Acoustic signals as visual biofeedback in the speech training of hearing impaired children
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
This study investigated the effectiveness of utilizing acoustic measures as an objective tool in monitoring speech errors and providing visual feedback to enhance speech training and aural rehabilitation of children with hearing impairment. The first part of the study included a comprehensive description of the acoustic characteristics related to the speech deficits of a hearing impaired child. Results of a series of t-tests performed on the experimental measures showed that vowel length and the loci of formant frequencies were most relevant in differentiating between correctly and incorrectly produced vowels, while voice onset time along with measures of Moment 1 (mean) and Moment 3 (skewness) obtained from speech moment analysis, were related to consonant accuracy. These findings, especially the finding of an abnormal sound frequency distribution shown in the hearing impaired child's consonant production, suggest a link between perceptual deficits and speech production errors and provide clues to the type of compensatory feedback needed for aural rehabilitation. The second part of the study involved a multiple baseline design across behaviours with replication across three hearing impaired children to assess the efficacy of treatment with acoustic signals as visual feedback. Participants' speech articulations following traditional speech training and training using spectrographic and RMS displays as visual feedback (referred to as 'visual treatment') were compared, with traditional non-visual treatment followed by visual treatment on one or two targets in a time-staggered fashion. Although no statistically significant difference on the experimental measures was found between the two training approaches based on perceptual assessment, some objective acoustic measures revealed more subtle changes toward normal speech patterns with visual treatment as compared to a traditional approach. Further acoustic-perceptual studies with a larger sample size and longer experimental period are needed to better understand the general and long-term effectiveness of visual treatment.