Audiobooks for Hearing Loss

  • End date
    Aug 3, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
Updated on 3 February 2021


The goal of the proposed project is to create an Audiobooks for Hearing Loss (HL) App - an audiobook App that has a wide array of user-selectable features designed to provide auditory training.


Twenty percent or more Americans have a Hearing Loss (HL), a commonly used term that includes congenital deafness as well as aging-related hearing challenges, so severe that it may make communication difficult. Worldwide, this translates into 65 million people with English as a first language.

Hearing aids (HAs) and cochlear implants (CI's) are not enough to remedy this. The types of enhancement these devices can perform is inherently limited due to the requirement that they need to perform their task in real time, since otherwise they would not be lip-synchronized, which is essential in face-to-face communication. For example, they cannot change the temporal structure of incoming speech, even if that may help intelligibility. But there is a deeper shortcoming. When individuals wait too long with obtaining these devices, synaptic and pathway re-organization takes place in the auditory cortex that needs to be addressed, and mere device usage may not be up to this task. Cochlear implants provide a special challenge: Individuals may initially have great difficulty deciphering the unfamiliar sensory input generated by these devices.

There is a growing consensus that HL cannot be addressed with HAs or CIs alone: auditory training is also needed. While face-to-face auditory training is available, this intervention is generally not covered by insurance plans. Auditory training Apps have become available to fill this need in a cost-effective manner. Unfortunately, evidence for the efficacy of these products is weak; a recent large-scale randomized controlled trial found no effect on a wide range of outcome measures. A likely suspect for these results is that most aural rehab Apps are repetitive, even with gamification and rewards. A popular method used by individuals with HL to improve their listening skills is listening to audiobooks. Audiobooks have the strong advantage over many aural rehab Apps of being intrinsically motivating. However, existing audiobooks do not adequately accommodate individuals with more severe levels of HL unless they are fundamentally re-thought.

The goal of the proposed project is to create an Audiobooks for Hearing Loss (HL) App - an audiobook App that has a wide array of user-selectable features designed to provide auditory training: Help individuals with recent Cochlear Implants/Hearing Aids through the difficult initial adjustment process, and help with transitioning at one's own pace toward the goal of understanding "habitual speech" (speech spoken without special effort to be intelligible). Even if not used for auditory training, this app would provide access to audiobooks where standard audiobooks fail. Thus, the App serves both auditory training and accessibility. Proposed features include enhanced ("clear") speech modes, visual support by simultaneous display of text and a talking face, and other features that can be enabled or disabled to serve the user's unique needs.

Condition Deafness, Hearing Loss, Auditory Loss and Deafness, Hearing Impairment, Hearing Impaired Children, decreased hearing, hard of hearing, hypoacusis
Treatment Audiobooks for hearing loss
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04231396
Last Modified on3 February 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Is your age between 7 yrs and 90 yrs?
Gender: Male or Female
Do you have any of these conditions: hypoacusis or Hearing Impairment or Auditory Loss and Deafness or Hearing Impaired Children or Deafness or Hearing Loss or hard of hearing or decrease...?
five distinct HL subgroups: (1) Adults with HA, moderate HL (7-15 dB); (2) Adults with HA, severe HL (>15 dB); (3) Adults with recent CI, post-lingually deaf (>15 dB); (4) Children, ages 7+, non-recent CI, pre-lingually deaf (>15 dB); and (5) Children, ages 7+, recent CI, post-lingually deaf (>15 dB). These five subgroups span broad ranges in terms of: (1) age (adults vs. children); (2) severity of hearing loss; (3) device used (HAs vs. Cis); (4) familiarity with device (recent vs. longer-term); and (5) onset of HL (pre-lingual vs. post-lingual. The team expects the highest efficacy for children and adults with recent CI who are post-lingually deaf; the lowest efficacy for adults with HA with either moderate of severe HL; and intermediate efficacy for children with non-recent CI who are pre-lingually deaf
speaking English as first language
and being able to read at least a first-grade level

Exclusion Criteria

no suspicions of cognitive deficits or vision impairments that would interfere with system usage or invalidate usability assessment
no signs of external ear disease
and all participants will be tested with the Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test, 4th Edition (EOWPVT-4; Brownell 2000), normed for ages of 2 and older, and are required to score in the 15th percentile or better
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