Three experiments were conducted to investigate the feasibility of using a paired comparison technique to select hearing aids for children. The first two experiments determined the age at which normal-hearing children and hearing-impaired children with mild to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss could be expected to meet criteria on a paired comparison task involving judgments of auditory clarity. Of 25 normal-hearing children between the ages of 4.0 and 6.4 yr, five out of five children between 6.0 and 6.4 yr of age passed the auditory paired comparison task. Of 10 hearing-impaired children between the ages of 5.5 and 7.4 yr, five out of five children between 6.5 and 7.4 yr of age passed the auditory paired comparison task. In Experiment 3, eight hearing-impaired children between the ages of 5.7 and 7.8 yr judged the clarity of seven hearing aids in two paired comparison, round robin tournaments. The results showed that correlations between the two tournaments were moderate to strong for six children and weak for two children. Of the six children with stronger correlations between tournaments, correlations between paired comparison judgments and phoneme identification scores were moderate to strong for four children and weak for two children. When compared with a hearing aid that approximated a standard prescription, the hearing aid selected by the paired comparison technique neither degraded nor enhanced speech intelligibility. Results from this study indicate that a paired comparison technique is feasible for use with hearing-impaired children 6.5 yr of age, and occasionally younger, who exhibit mild to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss and are capable of performing the task reliably.
Address reprint requests to Laurie S. Eisenberg, Ph.D., UCLA School of Medicine, Division of Head and Neck Surgery, 31-24 Rehabilitation Center, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1794.
*Current affiliation: UCLA School of Medicine, Division of Head and Neck Surgery, Los Angeles, CA 90024.
Portions of this paper were presented at the Third Annual Convention of the American Academy of Audiology, Denver, CO, April 1991.
Received June 6, 1991; accepted August 16, 1991.
© Williams & Wilkins 1991. All Rights Reserved.