Until recently children who were born "deaf" remained "deaf", and thus were unable to acquire spoken language. Fortunately nowadays deaf children with a cochlear deficit can be helped with a surgical intervention: they receive a cochlear implant (CI) very early in life so that they can "hear", i.e., can experience sound sensations. The first concern that the parents of these children phrase, is: "will my child hear with an implant?" The answer is definitely positive. The second question usually is: "will my child speak and sound like a normal hearing (NH) child of the same age?" This question remains unanswered. We want to address this issue from two perspectives: the identifiability and intelligibility of CI children.
(1) Identifiability: Recent findings indicate that the speech of 6- to 7-year-old CI users deviates from that of NH peers in particular fine details. But are those details that we can measure also detectable by the human ear? Are they sufficient to reliably identify CI children's speech? This will be investigated by having people listen to recordings of speech of CI children, children with an
acoustic hearing aid (HA), and NH children. (2) Intelligibility: A second main research question concerns the intelligibility of CI children's speech. When the children enter mainstream primary school, it is quintessential to know if they are intelligible for people not familiar with them. In this project we will assess their intelligibility using different methodologies.