Classroom use of FM systems with headsets by children with mild, fluctuating, or unilateral hearing loss
Keywords:Architectural acoustics, Audition, Frequency modulation, Headphones, Performance, Subjective testing, Cost benefit analysis, Frequency modulated systems, Headset, Hearing loss, Pre trial factors, Signal to noise enhancement
AbstractTwenty school-age children with hearing loss that was minimal (16 to 25 dBHL) to mild (26 to 40 dBHL), fluctuating conductive, or unilateral were fit with personal FM systems with lightweight headsets for a two-month trial period in their classrooms. At the end of the trial period, the classroom teacher evaluated change in the child's classroom performance. This measure was used to evaluate the success of the trial. Prior to the trial period, the classroom teacher completed an evaluation of the child's classroom performance, and the children were tested by an audiologist in the soundbooth in unaided and aided conditions. The pre-trial measures were considered for their possible value in predicting which children would be successful users of the equipment. The FM system with headset was found to be beneficial for about 80% of the children. However, there was no single pre-trial indicator or combination of indicators that could be used to predict who would or would not be a good candidate for long-term use of the equipment. These findings suggest that before making a final decision regarding the suitability of an FM system with headset for use by a child, it is necessary to consider pre-trial factors (type of classroom, classroom behavior, academic performance, audiometric results, and personal factors), as well as evidence gathered during a trial period. Furthermore, since most children showed some benefit from the signal-to-noise enhancement provided by the equipment, another long-term strategy may be to design classrooms which are less acoustically hostile. A cost-benefit analysis of these alternatives should be undertaken.
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