Objective: To assess the benefit of assistive listening devices (ALDs) for students with hearing impairment in mainstream schools.
Design: Speech recognition (CNC words) in background noise was assessed in a typical classroom. Participants underwent testing using four device configurations: (1) HA(s)/CI(s) alone, (2) soundfield amplification, (3) remote microphone (Roger Pen) on desk and (4) remote microphone at the loudspeaker. A sub-group of students subsequently underwent a 2-week classroom trial of each ALD. Degree of improvement from baseline [HA(s)/CI(s)] alone was assessed using teacher and student Listening Inventory for Education-Revised (LIFE-R) questionnaires.
Study sample: In all, 20 students, aged 12.5-18.9 years, underwent speech recognition assessment. In total, 10 of these participated in the classroom trial. Hearing loss ranged from mild-to-profound levels.
Results: Performance in each ALD configuration was higher than for HAs/CIs alone (p < 0.001). Teacher and student LIFE-R results indicated significant improvement in listening/communication when using the remote microphone in conjunction with HAs/CIs (p < 0.05). There was no difference between the soundfield system and the baseline measurement (p > 0.05).
Conclusion: Speech recognition improvements were demonstrated with the implementation of both remote microphones and soundfield systems. Both students and teachers reported functional hearing advantages in the classroom when using the remote microphone in concert with their standard hearing devices.
Keywords: Assistive listening devices; classroom acoustics; cochlear implants; educational technology; hearing aids; personal listening devices; soundfield system; speech perception.