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J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2014 Jun 1;57(3):942-51. doi: 10.1044/2013_JSLHR-L-12-0333.

Coordination of gaze and speech in communication between children with hearing impairment and normal-hearing peers.



To investigate gaze behavior during communication between children with hearing impairment (HI) and normal-hearing (NH) peers.


Ten HI-NH and 10 NH-NH dyads performed a referential communication task requiring description of faces. During task performance, eye movements and speech were tracked. Using verbal event (questions, statements, back channeling, and silence) as the predictor variable, group characteristics in gaze behavior were expressed with Kaplan-Meier survival functions (estimating time to gaze-to-partner) and odds ratios (comparing number of verbal events with and without gaze-to-partner). Analyses compared the listeners in each dyad (HI: n = 10, mean age = 12;6 years, mean better ear pure-tone average = 33.0 dB HL; NH: n = 10, mean age = 13;7 years).


Log-rank tests revealed significant group differences in survival distributions for all verbal events, reflecting a higher probability of gaze to the partner's face for participants with HI. Expressed as odds ratios (OR), participants with HI displayed greater odds for gaze-to-partner (ORs ranging between 1.2 and 2.1) during all verbal events.


The results show an increased probability for listeners with HI to gaze at the speaker's face in association with verbal events. Several explanations for the finding are possible, and implications for further research are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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