How Does Speech Intelligibility Affect Self and Others’ Perceptions of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People?

Tova Most

in The Oxford Handbook of Deaf Studies, Language, and Education, Vol. 2

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780195390032
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

How Does Speech Intelligibility Affect Self and Others’ Perceptions of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People?

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  • Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology



The extent to which a deaf person’s spoken language is intelligible to hearing listeners is an essential component of spoken language communication, influencing both the quality and the success of interactions. Beyond affecting the ability to communicate ideas, feelings, and experiences efficiently and successfully, speech intelligibility may also have an impact on interpersonal functioning and on others’ perceptions of the speaker.

Many deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) persons have voice and speech characteristics that affect their speech intelligibility. As a result of special education laws and recent technological developments with regard to sensory aids and assistive listening devices, DHH children are predominantly included in classes with hearing peers, where spoken language is the primary mode of communication. For DHH children, therefore, analysis of the effects of spoken language intelligibility on social interactions is of special importance. Accordingly, this chapter examines the ability of DHH individuals at different ages and in various educational programs to use spoken language for communication. More generally, it addresses the impact of speech intelligibility on the lives of DHH individuals. It focuses on how speech intelligibility affects others’ attitudes toward these individuals, as well as ways in which it affects their own emotional states, social relationships, and perspectives on occupational competencies.

Keywords: speech intelligibility; deaf and hard of hearing; attitudes; emotional and social functioning

Article.  9423 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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