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Dawna Lewis, Project 1

Under the direction of Dawna Lewis, Project 1 aims to improve communication access for children with minimal/mild hearing loss (MMHL) in complex learning environments, such as classrooms.

School-age children with MMHL may experience challenges understanding speech in complex listening environments. However, the causes of those challenges are not always clear. Difficulties that are related to their hearing loss may be overlooked or attributed to other factors, potentially affecting expectations, behaviors, and educational progress. The research from this project aims to help establish factors affecting the difficulties a child with MMHL will encounter when trying to listen and understand speech in the real world.

To achieve their research goals, Dr. Lewis has developed techniques that accurately simulate and evaluate complex learning environments that children with MMHL encounter every day. These techniques include a simulated classroom environment, as well as realistic amounts of background noise and reverberation times typical of what might be found in a real classroom. Through use of a simulated classroom environment, researchers have experimental control which would not be available to them in a real classroom.

Project 1 has two Specific Aims:

Aim 1: To identify auditory and audiovisual factors that influence comprehension in complex acoustic environments for children with MMHL.

A variety of factors impact a child’s ability to understand speech. Through the studies in this aim, researchers will increase their understanding of skills necessary for listening in complex acoustical environments and can identify children with MMHL who may be at greater risk for difficulties in real-world listening.

Aim 2: To examine comprehension in complex acoustic environments for children with MMHL.

​The studies in this aim will examine children’s ability to hear and process speech in a novel simulated classroom. The results of these studies will provide new information about strategies for coping with multi-sensory information when one or more inputs are degraded for both children with MMHL and those with normal hearing.