Research & Scholarly Achievement
at Gallaudet University

Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences

The department conducts extensive research on communication access technology and rehabilitation for Deaf and hard of hearing people through its Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Hearing Enhancement. Faculty, staff, and students conduct research on hearing, speech, spoken and visual language, and balance assessment and intervention across the human lifespan.


Adult Perceptions of Audiologists

ID: 3324
Status: Completed
Start date: June 2017
End Date: September 2017

Description

The purpose of this study is to examine adult perspectives of how audiologists with hearing loss communicate information when compared to their hearing counterparts. Other studies on health care professionals who have a disability or hearing loss have been focused on the perspectives of these professionals but not on those of their patients. Patient perspectives are important to understand when studying the effects of hearing loss because there has been a history of stigma associated with disabilities, including hearing loss. There will be 60 hearing or post-lingually hard of hearing/deaf study participants aged 50 years and older. They will be randomly chosen to watch one of two videos, spoken and captioned in English, of an audiologist model counseling on the same acoustic and visual factors in communication strategies. One video depicts the model as a typically hearing audiologist and the other video depicts an audiologist with a hearing loss. Study participants will rank the audiologist on a 5-point Likert scale on 8 competencies that are outlined as principles in the American Academy of Audiologists Code of Ethics. Regression analysis of responses will examine relationships of patient perspectives towards audiologists with and without hearing loss.

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Assessing the Risk of Cochlear Damage in Irish Step Dancers

ID: 3088
Status: Completed
Start date: June 2016
End Date: April 2017

Description

This project is designed to assess the risk of cochlear damage in those who have been exposed to Irish music and dance for a long period of time by comparing distortion product otoacoustic emission input-output function of a group of Irish Step Dancers to an equivalent group of those who have not been exposed to loud levels of sound. Noise exposure can cause many health complications. Irish Step Dancers are not only exposed to loud music levels, but they are also exposed to loud noise levels that are caused by dancing with fiberglass shoes. Irish step dancing studios have hard wooden floors that are designed to increase the intensity level of each dance step. This is done so the dancers can hear themselves and each other over the music so they can stay on beat. Oftentimes there is a difficult balance of maintaining the noise levels of the shoes and the noise levels of the music; the noise from the dancing causes the dancers to not hear the music, so the music level is increased. In turn, the music becomes louder and the dancers then have to dance with more intent, causing the noise levels from the dancing to increase. Noise induced hearing loss can occur when an individual is exposed to 85 decibels (dB) on a regular basis, or if the noise level exceeds 120 dB in one instance.

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Clinical Utility of Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions and Tinnitus-Like Spectrum Test in Identifying the Site of Lesion f

ID: 3341
Status: Completed
Start date: February 2017
End Date: September 2017

Description

Tinnitus is a tone or noise heard inside the head, and may lead to anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts depending on its severity. Despite its debilitating nature, however, it is difficult for audiologists in clinical settings to measure tinnitus as only the person with tinnitus can hear it. A group of researchers (Zhou et al., 2011) found that data obtained from the Tinnitus-Likeness Spectrum Test (Roberts et al., 2008), a pronounced edge in audiometric testing, and increased slope of the Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions input-output function are consistent with tinnitus characterized by a lesion in the peripheral auditory system. The objective of this research is to validate Zhou et al.’s study utilizing equipment that can be used in clinical settings. Computerized Bekesy Audiometry will be administered to measure participants’ audiometric thresholds; Computerized Tinnitus-Likeness Spectrum Test will be used to gather information regarding tinnitus in domains of pitch, loudness, and quality; Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions test will be performed to measure the integrity of outer hair cells in the inner ear. By integrating results obtained from series of diagnostic tests, it is expected that clinical audiologists can better distinguish individuals with tinnitus that may benefit from utilizing an ear-level sound therapy.

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Comparing Monolinguals with Sequential Late Bilingual Listeners: A Spoken-Language Processing Study

ID: 3086
Status: Completed
Start date: October 2015
End Date: April 2017

Description

Central auditory processing tests are usually administered in English. Despite self-ratings of an overall equal proficiency in English between sequential late bilinguals and monolinguals, tests performed in difficult listening conditions, such as those involving background noise or competing stimuli, have shown that sequential late bilinguals perform more poorly than monolinguals for whom norms have been derived. This study will assess whether sequential late bilinguals perform more poorly than monolinguals on various auditory processing tasks that require higher-order spoken language processing.

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The Effect of Background Noise on Preferred Listening Level and Loudness Perception

ID: 3336
Status: Completed
Start date: September 2016
End Date: April 2017

Description

Currently, there is a lack of research focusing on the effect of background noise on loudness perception of music and the possible relationship between increased preferred listening levels (PLLs) in noise. The current study seeks to define changes in loudness perception of music in quiet settings versus noisy settings and to relate loudness perception in quiet versus noise to selected PLLs in quiet versus noise. The research will provide more insight in regards to necessary protection from background noise while listening to music and education regarding the possible risks. Questions: What is the relationship between adult PLLs for music and signal-to-noise ratio as the intensity of noise increases? What is the effect of noise on the loudness perception of music in adults? Methods: The study will include 20 normal hearing participants who will rate the loudness of music in a quiet setting, as well as for 3 different levels and types of noise. The participants will also set the PLL in a quiet setting, as well as for the 3 different levels and types of noise. Analysis: Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance will be used to determine the effects of level and type of background noise on loudness ratings and PLLs.

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Interactive learning environment for optimizing technology use

ID: 2582
Status: Ongoing
Start date: October 2014
End Date: September 2019

Description

Current clinical and home training programs for auditory rehabilitation use an intensive learning paradigm, a supervised training regime focusing on the use of important acoustic and contextual cues. This contrasts with principles of implicit learning that model perceptual learning in real-life, natural circumstances, and emphasize spontaneous exploration of the environment. The goal of this project is to develop a prototype training/counseling program to simulate different real-life listening conditions so that a person can experience both the benefits and limitations of their hearing devices, and develop realistic auditory rehabilitation goals and expectations. To accomplish this, the training program utilizes an individualized and interactive learning environment, consisting of soundscapes that represent a variety of listening situations with varying degrees of difficulty, and which change in response to user input. The program is based on self-directed exploration of the relationship between (i) acoustic factors that affect hearing/sound processing, and (ii) technological solutions and communication strategies that are aimed at improving sound detection, speech comprehension, and the overall listening experience. Simulations of real-life listening conditions allow a self-structured direct experience that neither traditional auditory training nor informational counseling provide.

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Social Support Service Preferences of Parents and Caregivers of Children who are D/deaf or hard of hearing

ID: 3326
Status: Completed
Start date: February 2017
End Date: December 2017

Description

This is a two-phase study to develop and distribute a survey to parents and caregivers of children who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. The goal is to determine if the parent or caregiver’s philosophical approach to educating their child impacts their preferences for support service delivery. Phase 1 of this study includes conducting six needs assessments with audiologists, support service leaders, and parents/caregivers of children who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. These interviews along with a review of current research on the topic will lead to the development of a survey about the population’s preferences for the logistics, content, and composition of support services for themselves. The survey will then be distributed to a cohort of parents and caregivers. Responses from this survey will give insight into what this population is looking for from support services for themselves. Eventually, we hope to be able to discuss the results of the cohort as a whole as well as make generalizations about similarities and differences in the preferences of parents and caregivers as they relate to the educational philosophy. We hope this data will allow educational settings to better meet population preferences.

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Spatial Navigation Abilities in Deaf Older Adults: With and Without Vestibular Impairment

ID: 3434
Status: Ongoing
Start date: October 2016

Description

The purposes of this 3-year project are to: 1. develop and adapt spatial memory and spatial navigation assessment tools to be administered to deaf/Deaf population; 2. characterize the spatial memory and spatial navigation abilities in young adults who are deaf, with and without vestibular impairments (VI); and 3. assess the role of ASL in spatial memory and navigation abilities in older adults. Older individuals with VI may present with difficulty with spatial memory and navigation, which increases the risk of falling or wayfinding difficulties. High prevalence (54-85%) of VI in the deaf population puts older deaf individuals at risk, while evidence of high visuo-spatial IQ in ASL users suggests that the spatial cognitive functions among deaf ASL users with VI may not be as affected as those among deaf non-ASL users with VI. To address purpose #1 and #2 spatial memory and spatial navigation assessment tools (virtual reality navigation and memory tasks, sense-of-direction questionnaire) will be normed and adapted to the young deaf adult population (ages 21-35). To address purpose #3, these spatial memory and navigation tasks are administered to subjects 60 years or older with different experiences in hearing status, ASL use, and VI.

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Spatial Navigation Abilities in Deaf Population

ID: 3395
Status: Ongoing
Start date: October 2016

Description

The purposes of the study are to: 1. develop and adapt spatial memory and spatial navigation assessment tools to be administered to deaf/Deaf population; 2. characterize the spatial memory and spatial navigation abilities in older adults who were either born deaf or became deaf before Kindergarten, with and without vestibular impairments (VI); and 3. assess the role of ASL in spatial memory and navigation abilities.

Older individuals with VI may present with difficulty with spatial memory and navigation, which increases the risk of falling or wayfinding difficulties. High prevalence (54-85%) of VI in deaf population puts older deaf individuals at risk, while evidence of high visuo-spatial IQ in ASL users suggests that the spatial cognitive functions among deaf ASL users with VI may not be as affected as those among deaf non-ASL users with VI.

To address purpose #1, spatial memory and spatial navigation assessment tools (virtual reality navigation and memory tasks, real-life wayfinding tasks, daily skills, questionnaires) will be normed and adapted to the young adult deaf population (ages 21-35). To address purposes #2 and 3, these spatial memory and navigation tasks are administered to subjects 65 years or older, grouped based on hearing status, ASL use, and VI.

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Products

Tamaki, C., & Maul, K. (2016, November). So What You Are Dizzy? What Does Vestibular Function Have to do With Cognition? Poster presented at American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual Convention, Philadelphia, PA.


Various Earphone Models for iPhones: Do They Make a Difference When Used With a Hearing App?

ID: 3021
Status: Completed
Start date: September 2015
End Date: April 2017

Description

In recent years, downloadable applications have become available to transform iPhone and Android mobile devices into personal sound amplifiers. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAP) as “wearable electronic products that are intended to amplify sounds for people who are not hearing impaired.” Generally, PSAPs have consisted of portable amplifying systems; however, with the advent of downloadable amplifying software, this category has broadened to include amplifier applications that can be downloaded to a user’s mobile device. One question concerning the use of smartphones with downloadable amplifier apps is whether the type of in-the-ear earphones makes a difference to performance. The proposed study compares “aided” objective and subjective performance in a group of listeners expressing difficulty hearing in everyday settings, yet whose loss did not result in a recommendation for hearing aids. Performance was examined between three in-the-ear earphones using the same smartphone-based amplification application.

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Virtual Visual Environment Stability With Oculus Rift: A pilot study

ID: 3394
Status: Completed
Start date: May 2016
End Date: July 2017

Description

This sudy explored the utility of a leading virtual reality (VR) headset for use in diagnostic and rehabilitative applications, through the use of a protocol designed to validate VR immersion and performance. This protocol compares subject performance on the modified Clinical Test of Sensory Integration and Balance (mCTSIB) while viewing a controlled environment and then a stable VR environment through the Oculus Rift Developers Kit 2 (OR-DK2). Based on speculation by Chiravano et. al (2015), the author hypothesized that subjects would perform equally well in a lab and in a stable VR environment, even when proprioceptive cues became unreliable. The data does not support this hypothesis, instead suggesting that the OR-DK2 system is not yet ready for
use in diagnostic and rehabilitative applications. The data does, however, support conclusions drawn by Menzies, et.al (2016), in their paper investigating an objective method to evaluate VR immersion.

Principal investigators

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Products

Smith, S. & Tamaki, C. (Nov 2016). Virtual Visual Environment Stability For mCTSIB – A Pilot Study. Research Podium Presentation at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual Convention, Philadelphia, PA.

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