Assistive Technology: Research Trends and Resources Individuals with good low-frequency hearing who wear earmolds or in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids for a high-frequency hearing loss often complain that their voices sound “boomy” or “hollow.” This perception of the occlusion effect (OE), the result of an increase in low-frequency sound-pressure level in the ear canal, is ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   October 01, 2011
Assistive Technology: Research Trends and Resources
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Hearing Disorders / Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   October 01, 2011
Assistive Technology: Research Trends and Resources
The ASHA Leader, October 2011, Vol. 16, 18-19. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB.16122011.18
The ASHA Leader, October 2011, Vol. 16, 18-19. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB.16122011.18
Research Trends
Receiver Size and Occlusion
Individuals with good low-frequency hearing who wear earmolds or in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids for a high-frequency hearing loss often complain that their voices sound “boomy” or “hollow.” This perception of the occlusion effect (OE), the result of an increase in low-frequency sound-pressure level in the ear canal, is a common factor in hearing aid dissatisfaction.
Researchers evaluated measured and perceived occlusion for a receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aid with receivers of different sizes and investigated the relationship between these measures and ear canal volume. Thirty adults were fitted with an RIC hearing aid and tested with five receiver sizes. Measured occlusion effect was calculated from aided and unaided real-ear responses obtained while subjects vocalized /i/. Perceived occlusion measures were acquired using an occlusion effect scale.
Measured occlusion was greatest for the largest receiver, but the most common perceived occlusion ratings were none to mild for all receiver sizes. Perceived ratings were weakly correlated to acoustic measures. There was little to no correlation between receiver size and estimated ear canal volume.
Occlusion was not correlated to ear canal volume, suggesting that RIC hearing aids most often result in negligible amounts of measured and perceived occlusion effect, regardless of ear canal size. Clinicians may need to consider that self-rating of occlusion may not match measured occlusion results. The study appears in the American Journal of Audiology [doi:10.1044/1059-0889(2010/09-0031)].
Developmental Disabilities and AAC
Clinicians beginning an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) intervention must select an AAC device, a decision often based on learner characteristics and environmental demands. However, there is considerable debate regarding the AAC option best suited to individuals with developmental disabilities.
Given the importance of an individual’s preference to intervention outcomes, researchers systematically reviewed studies that assessed preference for using different AAC options. Studies were evaluated in terms of participants, setting, communication options assessed, design, communication skill(s) taught, intervention procedures, outcomes of the intervention and preference assessment, follow-up and generalization, and reliability of data collection and treatment integrity. Seven studies (12 participants) were included.
In the studies, individuals were taught to use speech-generating devices (SGDs), picture exchange (PE) systems, and/or manual signs. Sixty-seven percent of participants demonstrated some degree (≥55%) of preference for using SGDs; 33% demonstrated some degree (≥55%) of preference for PE. The results indicate that individuals with developmental disabilities may show a preference for different AAC options, and that incorporating these preferences may enable individuals to exert self-determination with respect to AAC intervention. The study appears in Research in Developmental Disabilities (doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2011.02.003).
AAC for Crime Victims
Individuals with disabilities, particularly those with complex communication needs, may have a heightened risk of becoming victims of crime, abuse, and neglect. South African researchers are helping people who use AAC report such offenses by developing communication boards for this purpose. Thirty-six participants in groups based on four of the 11 official South African languages (English, Afrikaans, Sepedi, and isiZulu) generated a list of words they deemed important to disclosure of a crime, abuse, or neglect. Participants then prioritized the top 55 words. A total of 56 words appeared on two or more of the four lists.
A communication board was developed using Picture Communication Symbols (PCS), the most frequently used symbol set in South Africa. A discrepancy analysis revealed that these 56 words could be represented by 219 symbols. Symbols were developed for two words for which no PCS symbols existed. The study appears in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (doi: 10.3109/07434618.2011.566696).
Resources
Articles, practice documents, special interest group affiliation, and consumer information are readily available to audiologists and speech-language pathologists working with clients using hearing assistive technology and augmentative and alternative communication. Links to many of these resources follow.
Hearing Assistive Technology
Practice Documents
Articles
Information for the Public
Audiology Information Series (patient information newsletters)
Special Interest Groups
Augmentative and Alternative Communication
ASHA Practice Policy Documents
Documents from the National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons With Severe Disabilities
Literature Review
AAC Device Funding
Special Interest Group
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October 2011
Volume 16, Issue 12