Speech Perception and Spoken Word Recognition

Lynne E. Bernstein and Edward T. Auer

in The Oxford Handbook of Deaf Studies, Language, and Education, Volume 1, Second Edition

Second edition

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199750986
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Speech Perception and Spoken Word Recognition

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  • Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology


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Speech is an important mode of communication for many people with hearing loss, even for those whose hearing loss is profound. This chapter focuses on spoken communication by adults with severe or profound hearing loss. It describes several fundamental issues in speech perception and spoken word recognition, such as the use of amplification even with profound hearing loss, enhanced lipreading abilities associated with deafness, and the role of the lexicon in speech perception. The chapter describes how the lexical structure of words can assist in compensating for reduced access to speech information. Although lipreaders must frequently contend with ambiguous segmental information, many words in English nevertheless maintain distinct perceptual patterns that can be used for accurate lipreading. The chapter also describes results of a study that sought to compare word age of acquisition estimates in deaf versus hearing adults. Subjective judgments showed delayed but generally similar order of word acquisition and much greater reliance on orthography for word learning among the deaf participants. A review of some results on audiovisual speech perception and speech perception with vibrotactile stimuli underscores the importance of bimodal speech information. Individuals with severe or profound hearing loss can greatly benefit from being able to see a talker along with hearing reduced auditory information or even feeling vibrotactile information. Overall, this chapter demonstrates that speech information can withstand extreme stimulus degradation and still convey the talker’s intended message. Multimodal integration and lexical structure assist in overcoming effects of hearing loss, and speech is frequently an important communication mode for deaf individuals.

Keywords: speech perception; multimodal speech perception; spoken word recognition; lipreading; hearing aids; deaf; hard-of-hearing; hearing loss

Article.  9446 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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