Auditory Verbal Strategies Series No. 1 ~ Acoustic Highlighting



My first post in the Auditory Verbal Strategies series is about Acoustic Highlighting.  In basic terms, acoustic highlighting is giving auditory emphasis to a certain acoustic characteristic of a message.  As a child learns to listen, the goal is to progress towards a more normal, less highlighted mode of communication.

Some examples include*:

MORE AUDIBLE                                              LESS AUDIBLE
(for a beginning child)                                        (for a child who is listening well)

No background noise                                          Increased background noise
6" from hearing aid or CI                                   Increased distance from hearing aid or CI
Simpler language with shorter phrases               Complex sentences
Vowel variation, rhythm and syllable                 Less varied acoustic contrast (minimal pairs, similar
    contrast                                                                        rhythm)
Emphasis on key words                                       No emphasis on key words
Emphasis on words not accentuated                   No emphasis
 (prepositions, articles, verb tenses, pronouns)
Word position (key word) in sentence - end        Middle, beginning
Closed set (choices, context known)                    Open set (no choices, context unknown)
Slightly slower rate                                              Normal rate
Increased pitch variation and rhythm                   Normal rhythm
    (sing what you say)
Clearer enunciation (use of "clear" speech)        Less clear and/or unfamiliar voice
Increased repetition                                             No repetition

*Based on Judith I. Smiser

Having reached the goal of less highlighting, remember that there are noisy environments where acoustic highlighting might continue to be necessary.  This is the same as those with normal hearing.

Another form of acoustic highlighting is Motherese/Parentese.   This is speech that is used by parents/caregivers when talking with young children/babies to help make speech more audible to them.  Cutesy speech! Most people do this instinctively with babies.  It is important to remember that children who are recently aided need to hear this type of speech just the same as babies who are just learning to listen do.

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