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communication, children, hearing loss


The modified Goodman scale, a hearing loss classification scale, is commonly used to describe audiometric findings for both children and adults (Haggard & Primus, 1999). This scale uses one or two word descriptors for hearing level categories and is based on a pure tone average (PTA), the average of hearing thresholds at 500, 1000, and 2000 Hz. Although these categories were developed from clinical and educational observations (Goodman, 1965), degree of hearing loss has not been shown to reliably predict the educational or language performance of children with hearing impairment (Martin & Clark, 1996). This study was designed to evaluate how the presentation modality (hearing loss simulation vs. using a term to describe the hearing loss using the Goodman scale) affects predictions of childrenʹs communication difficulties in the classroom by graduate speech-language pathology students.

The perceptions of graduate speech-language pathology students were of interest because this population had not been included in earlier investigations, despite the fact that they often work with hearing-impaired children in the school systems. Three levels of hearing loss (mild, moderate, and severe) were introduced using two different presentation conditions. In one condition, a descriptive term from the Goodman scale was used to describe the hearing loss. In the other presentation conditions, a simulated hearing loss was presented to the participants. Following each presentation of each hearing loss, the participants rated the potential communication difficulty a child with that loss may have in the classroom using a questionnaire composed of nine different communication-related tasks (Appendix A).

In general, participants predicted significantly greater difficulty when presented with the simulated hearing loss, than when presented with the descriptive term for the same degree of hearing loss with a few exceptions. The results of this study indicated that the standard method of classifying hearing loss results in underestimation of the impact a hearing loss might have for a child.