Minimal Hearing Loss: Implications and Management Options for Educational Settings Audibility, which refers to the ability of sound to be heard, is not sufficient for listening and learning environments, such as school classrooms. Speech intelligibility, not audibility, is the key to understanding and, therefore, must be addressed for all children, especially those who have some amount of hearing loss. It ... Article
Article  |   September 01, 2014
Minimal Hearing Loss: Implications and Management Options for Educational Settings
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Cynthia McCormick Richburg
    Department of Special Education and Clinical Services, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA
  • Annah L. Hill
    Department of Special Education and Clinical Services, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA
  • Disclosure: Financial: Cynthia Richburg and Annah Hill have no financial interests to disclose.
    Disclosure: Financial: Cynthia Richburg and Annah Hill have no financial interests to disclose.×
  • Nonfinancial: Cynthia Richburg has published on the topic of MHL, two of which are referenced in this paper. Annah Hill has no nonfinancial interests to disclose.
    Nonfinancial: Cynthia Richburg has published on the topic of MHL, two of which are referenced in this paper. Annah Hill has no nonfinancial interests to disclose.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Hearing Disorders / School-Based Settings / Articles
Article   |   September 01, 2014
Minimal Hearing Loss: Implications and Management Options for Educational Settings
SIG 9 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders in Childhood, September 2014, Vol. 24, 40-53. doi:10.1044/hhdc24.2.40
SIG 9 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders in Childhood, September 2014, Vol. 24, 40-53. doi:10.1044/hhdc24.2.40

Audibility, which refers to the ability of sound to be heard, is not sufficient for listening and learning environments, such as school classrooms. Speech intelligibility, not audibility, is the key to understanding and, therefore, must be addressed for all children, especially those who have some amount of hearing loss. It is well documented that children's central auditory systems are not fully myelinated or mature until the age of 10 to 12 years (Moore, 2002; Musiek, Gollegly, & Baran, 1984). School-age children have “developing” auditory systems due to their poorer sensitivity (when compared to adults) to small acoustic cues in speech, such as voice-onset time and formant-frequency transition (Elliott, 1986; Elliott, Longinotti, Meyer, Raz, & Zucker, 1981). Children are also less able to selectively attend to auditory tasks, have difficulty recognizing speech distorted by reverberation, and have problems with speech intelligibility in background noise and reverberation plus noise (Finitzo-Hieber & Tillman, 1978; Neuman & Hochberg, 1983; Stuart, 2005). Therefore, children under the age of 13 years (i.e., those in elementary and middle school) have been described as “special listeners” (Nabelek & Nabelek, 1994).

This article describes minimal hearing loss (MHL), the poor acoustics found in educational environments, and the impact of those acoustics on children with MHL. In addition, this article reviews environmental modifications that can be made to improve classroom acoustics. This article offers multiple researchers' strategies for better access to listening and learning, including soundfield amplification options for improving the signal-to-noise ratio in classroom settings.

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