The study examines differences between experienced and inexperienced listeners in understanding the speech of the deaf. Listeners heard test words in three conditions: in sentences, as isolated words, and as segmented words (the later being words originally produced in sentences, excised, and then presented in isolation). Factors believed to account for listener differences were examined. These were relative word intelligibility, context, including the amount of linguistic information in a sentence, the overall length, and the position of the test word in the sentence. Scores for experienced listeners were consistently higher than those for inexperienced listeners across each factor considered. Differences between listeners were greatest for test words in sentences, followed by isolated and segmented test words. However, there was no statistically significant interaction between listener experience and any of the factors considered. Thus, the data do not support the hypotheses that have been proposed to account for listener differences. For both experienced and inexperienced listeners, scores varied systematically depending on the relative predicted intelligibility of the test words and the amount of context in the sentence.