Speech Perception Training

Speech perception training can be described in a number of ways. 

  • It can be analytic (syllable or phoneme based) or synthetic (sentence or conversation based).  While analytic training focuses on the comprehension of the building blocks of speech, synthetic training emphasizes the use of context in order to “fill in the gaps” and understand a partially inaudible speech signal

  • It can be auditory-alone, visual-alone or auditory-visual. 

  • It can be trained in quiet or in noise.

Two Group Activities

There is evidence that auditory-alone and auditory-visual speech perception can be trained individually with computer based programs that can adapt to an individual’s ability level.

There is limited evidence, however, that speech perception can be trained in a group setting. Despite limited evidence, group participants have reported benefit from receiving speech perception training in Group AR Programs.

It is possible to focus on two types of speech perception activities in your program.

Speech Reading

Many individuals with hearing loss do not even bother to look at a speaker's face while communicating. Exercises that teach individuals to take advantage of their speech reading skills (skills that they already have) can be advantageous. 

For more information about speechreading exercises see: H Kaplan, S Bally, and C Garretson. Speechreading: A way to improve understanding, Washinton DC: Gallaudet University Press, 1985.

Concentration Exercise

It can be useful to teach group members to consider the topic of conversation when they are trying this discern what is being said. By taking into account the context of the conversation, they can use this info to fill in the blanks when some information is missed. The Concentration Exercise is a good example of an activity that emphasizes such techniques.

Outside Materials

The books listed in the “Must Read” section below contain a number of exercises that can be adapted for a group setting.

Some of these exercises consist of sentences related to a specific topic. The Kaplan text contains a list of sentences that are related to a particular season of the year. For example, “I love to watch ice-skating”.  The participant doesn’t need to repeat the sentence verbatim; just indicate the season referred to in the sentence. This exercise shows the importance of listening for keywords and context.  This can be done with or without visual cues, in quiet or in noise. These cues can be varied to change the difficulty level as needed. 

You can present these sentences to everyone, but go around the room and ask individuals to respond.  Alternatively, participants can be given an answer sheet and record their own score. It is often useful to let individuals compare their scores between auditory-alone and auditory-visual conditions and between quiet and noise conditions. This demonstrates the need to advocate for listening in quiet when speechreading is available.

The moderator provides an uplifting and positive spin on the importance of speech perception training. As the Group AR moderator, you have the opportunity to inspire participants to take action on their hearing loss. Keep this in mind during all of your exercise and try to imbue participants with a positive outlook.

Must Reads

N. Tye-Murray. Communication Training for Older Teenagers and Adults, Austin, TX:Pro-Ed, 1997.

J. E. Preminger. Group audiologic rehabilitation for adults and their communication partners. The ASHA Leader , 2011. 

J. E. Preminger and C. H. Ziegler. Can auditory and visual speech perception be trained within a group setting? American Journal of Audiology17 (1):80-97, 2008.