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Trends Amplif. 2010 Jun;14(2):96-112. doi: 10.1177/1084713810375567.

Cued speech for enhancing speech perception and first language development of children with cochlear implants.

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Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium.


Nearly 300 million people worldwide have moderate to profound hearing loss. Hearing impairment, if not adequately managed, has strong socioeconomic and affective impact on individuals. Cochlear implants have become the most effective vehicle for helping profoundly deaf children and adults to understand spoken language, to be sensitive to environmental sounds, and, to some extent, to listen to music. The auditory information delivered by the cochlear implant remains non-optimal for speech perception because it delivers a spectrally degraded signal and lacks some of the fine temporal acoustic structure. In this article, we discuss research revealing the multimodal nature of speech perception in normally-hearing individuals, with important inter-subject variability in the weighting of auditory or visual information. We also discuss how audio-visual training, via Cued Speech, can improve speech perception in cochlear implantees, particularly in noisy contexts. Cued Speech is a system that makes use of visual information from speechreading combined with hand shapes positioned in different places around the face in order to deliver completely unambiguous information about the syllables and the phonemes of spoken language. We support our view that exposure to Cued Speech before or after the implantation could be important in the aural rehabilitation process of cochlear implantees. We describe five lines of research that are converging to support the view that Cued Speech can enhance speech perception in individuals with cochlear implants.

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