Priority Grants Research Fund

Abstracts of Priority Research Project Funded for FY 2005

R. Steven Ackley
Audiology Graduate Programs
Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials: Evaluating and Standardizing a Balance Assessment Procedure in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Subjects
Marilyn Sass-Lehrer, Carol Croyle, Sarah Wainscott, Patricia Spencer
Education, Social Work
Newborn Hearing Screening and Early Intervention: An Investigation of Family and Child Outcomes
Russell Olson, David Penna, Mairin Veith
History and Government
Disability Pressure Groups in Europe: Organization, Strategy and Tactics
Sarah Taub, Susan Mather, Dennis Galvan, Pilar Piñar
Linguistics, Psychology, Foreign Language
Gesture and ASL Acquisition

NEW GRANTS

Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials: Evaluating and Standardizing a Balance Assessment Procedure in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Subjects
R. Steven Ackley, Ph.D., CCC-A

Audiology Graduate Programs

This study proposes to examine 100 Deaf and severely Hard of Hearing (HoH) subjects using a relatively new technique known as vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) assessment. Preliminary findings conducted at the Gallaudet Hearing Clinic corroborate clinical findings reported in the literature and indicate that in subjects with vertigo or imbalance or history of these disorders VEMPs tend to be abnormal with respect to amplitude, latency and/or augmented calculations. Further, the findings suggest that subjects with vertigo or imbalance may be tested accurately and without discomfort using this procedure unlike other traditional test methods. However, there is a dearth of literature regarding clinical application of this procedure to Deaf and Hard of Hearing subjects. The test is a measure of the saccule, an inner ear balance organ, and loud acoustic signals are used to generate the response. Although pilot data collected by this researcher indicates that this test is useful in assessing balance function in Deaf/HoH patients, important baseline data is yet to be reported on these subjects. Indeed, preliminary indications suggest a possible decrease in VEMP amplitude in Deaf/HH subjects when compared to control subjects and patients with normal hearing. To this end, testing a large series of these subjects would provide definitive data for widespread clinical application of the test. It is hypothesized that a significant decrease in VEMP amplitude will be determined for Deaf/HH subjects as compared to controls with normal hearing, which will then serve as a clinical standard when testing Deaf/HH patients using VEMP procedures to assess balance disorder.


Newborn Hearing Screening and Early Intervention: An Investigation of Family and Child Outcomes
Marilyn Sass-Lehrer, Ph.D., Carol Croyle, M.A., and Sarah Wainscott, M.A. Patricia Spencer

Education; Social Work

With the adoption of procedures for neonatal screening for hearing loss now widely established, parents can learn that their infants are deaf or hard of hearing soon after birth. Large scale studies have indicated that children whose hearing loss is identified at an early age show higher language and cognitive skills than those whose identification has been delayed. However, concerns have been expressed about the impact of early identification on family functioning and relationships between child and parent, especially when intervention is delayed, inappropriate, or supplied in an insensitive manner. The purpose of the proposed project is to evaluate the impact of families' experiences through the newborn hearing and intervention process (EHDI) on child and family outcomes after approximately 6 months of participation in early intervention. Specifically, we propose to collect information about family functioning, parent involvement, parent decision-making processes, as well as child language and cognitive development. Relationships will be explored among these measures and parents' reports of their experiences with the EHDI process. The expected outcome of this study is provision of guidelines for services, intervention procedures and policies that maximize benefits for families and children during the early years of life.


CONTINUED GRANTS

Disability Pressure Groups in Europe: Organization, Strategy and Tactics
Russell Olson, David Penna, and Mairin Veith

History and Government

There is evidence that European disability interest groups have made incremental, subtle yet fundamental shifts in the tactics they use to accomplish goals favorable to their constituencies, including those which are Deaf. Although the metamorphosis appears to be a trend toward greater use of insider tactics (lobbying, advising, consulting, working within governments) and away from public confrontation, the precise nature of the new tactics has not yet been fully described. Moreover, the extent to which the new tactics are being uniformly applied in European countries with qualitatively different cultural, political, social, historic and economic environments has yet to be fully examined and documented. The three year project will study and describe the tactics of European disability groups, including variations that may occur in a sample of countries that combine to encompass a range of social contexts. In addition to illuminating a phenomenon that is significant to academic political science, the findings promise to provide insights to deafness related interest groups in this country and elsewhere, resulting in a greater influence on public policy.


Gesture and ASL Acquisition
Sarah Taub, Susan Mather, Dennis Galvan, Pilar Piñar

Linguistics; Psychology; Foreign Language

The main goal of this project is to identify whether preexisting, communicative gestural behavior serves as a bootstrapping mechanism for acquiring the grammaticalized gestural elements of ASL (e.g, spatially modulated verbs and pronouns, role shift, grammatical facial expressions) among adult hearing learners. More specifically, our goal is to investigate whether the quality of co-speech gesture can serve as a diagnostic to predict ASL aptitude. In order to do this, we propose to collect videotaped data from hearing subjects who are about to begin learning ASL. Our subjects will watch several cartoon vignettes and then will retell the stories in English to another subject. We will develop a coding system to analyze the subjects' gestures according to factors such as number of gestures, size of gestures, spatial coherence of gestures, number of gestures in which hands represent referents, number of gestures in which the speaker takes on a character's persona, and frequency of shifts between types of gestures. Subjects will also be rated on their comprehension of the vignettes and on their involvement with the task, as both can affect gesturing.

Data from two different groups of subjects will be collected offset by one year. Subjects' skills in ASL after 8 and 20 months of exposure will be rated in at least the following areas: vocabulary, inflectional morphology, word order, facial expressions, use of classifiers, use of role shift, and discourse factors. ASL course grades will provide one measure of overall proficiency. Subjects' ASL narratives will be rated in these areas as well by a trained ASL consultant. Statistical analyses will test for correlations among gestural factors and ASL skill areas within and across subjects.

[Last modified: 2011.12.05 16:50:38. by Kevin Cole]

DISCLAIMER: This website contains documents with terms that may be considered by today's reader as outdated and even offensive. For example, the term "hearing impairment" is sometimes used as a category for levels of hearing loss, such as hard of hearing and deaf. Some people now see cultural identification and communication preference as defining characteristics behind terms such as hard of hearing and deaf, and they do not favor terms conveying medical distinctions and loss. Yet we recognize that removing and changing terms may alter the precise meaning of the scientific author. A solution may be found by expanding the scope of future research to include non-medical perspectives.
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