Simultaneous communication supports learning in noise by cochlear implant users
SourceCochlear Implants International, 18, 1, (2017), pp. 49-56
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OLO
Cochlear Implants International
SubjectLearning and Plasticity
Objectives: This study sought to evaluate the potential of using spoken language and signing together (simultaneous communication, SimCom, sign-supported speech) as a means of improving speech recognition, comprehension, and learning by cochlear implant (CI) users in noisy contexts.Methods: Forty eight college students who were active CI users, watched videos of three short presentations, the text versions of which were standardized at the 8th-grade reading level. One passage was presented in spoken language only, one was presented in spoken language with multi-talker babble background noise, and one was presented via simultaneous communication with the same background noise. Following each passage, participants responded to 10 (standardized) open-ended questions designed to assess comprehension. Indicators of participants' spoken language and sign language skills were obtained via self-reports and objective assessments.Results: When spoken materials were accompanied by signs, scores were significantly higher than when materials were spoken in noise without signs. Participants' receptive spoken language skills significantly predicted scores in all three conditions; neither their receptive sign skills nor age of implantation predicted performance.Discussion: Students who are CI users typically rely solely on spoken language in the classroom. The present results, however, suggest that there are potential benefits of simultaneous communication for such learners in noisy settings. For those CI users who know sign language, the redundancy of speech and signs potentially can offset the reduced fidelity of spoken language in noise.Conclusion: Accompanying spoken language with signs can benefit learners who are CI users in noisy situations such as classroom settings. Factors associated with such benefits, such as receptive skills in signed and spoken modalities, classroom acoustics, and material difficulty need to be empirically examined.
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