Volume 9, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN 2211-7245
  • E-ISSN: 2211-7253



Studies on the speech and language development of hearing-impaired children often focus on (deviations in) the children’s speech . However, it is unclear if listeners also differences between the speech of normally hearing and hearing-impaired children. This contribution wants to fill this void by investigating the overall perceived speech quality of both groups. Three groups of listeners (speech and language pathologists, primary school teachers and inexperienced listeners) judged 126 utterances of seven normally hearing children, seven children with an acoustic hearing aid and seven children with a cochlear implant, in a comparative judgment task. All children were approximately seven years old and received, in the case of the hearing-impaired children, their assistive hearing device before the age of two.

The online tool D-PAC was used to administer the comparative judgement task. The listeners compared stimuli in pairs and decided which stimulus sounded best. This method ultimately leads to a ranking in which all stimuli are represented according to their overall perceived speech quality.

The main result is that the speech of normally hearing children was preferred by the listeners. This indicates that, even after several years of device use, the speech quality of hearing-impaired children is perceived as different from that of normally hearing children. Within the group of hearing-impaired children, cochlear implanted children were judged to exhibit higher speech quality than acoustically hearing aided children, especially after a longer device use. The speech quality of the latter group, on the other hand, remained practically stable. Listeners, irrespectively of their degree of experience with (hearing-impaired) children’s speech, completed the task similarly. In other words: the difference between the overall perceived speech quality of normally hearing and hearing-impaired children is salient for all listener groups and they all slightly preferred children with a cochlear implant over children with an acoustic hearing aid.

Available under the CC BY 4.0 license.

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