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Student 1 is an unintelligible female speaker with a very limited phonetic repertoire, severe pitch and loudness problems and little residual hearing. During 12+ years of speech therapy prior to entry to NTID she had never addressed voice/pitch production. She was not using amplification when she sought speech-language services but expressed a willingness to explore the use of hearing aids and computerized visual feedback equipment to facilitate instruction, practice and self-monitoring. Student 1 made modest gains in pitch control, speech sound production and intelligibility after 20 hours of individual instruction. She remains motivated to improve speech/voice and will continue for a 3rd ten-week session of speech-language therapy.

Degree of Deafness/PTA

severe to profound sensorineural loss bilaterally; PTA RE 107dB, LE 108dB


maternal rubella

Age of Onset/Date of Detection


Use of Amplification

body aids from ages 2-7; binaural BTE's from ages 7-18; no use of amplification from ages 18-23; has binaural BTE's and agreed to bring them to NTID for hearing aid check and potential use in speech-language therapy classes

Speech-Language Therapy History

individual speech therapy sessions in school from ages 3.5 to 15 or 16; worked on phoneme accuracy with IBM SpeechViewer in high school; did not work on voice (pitch or loudness)

Educational History

oral deaf school from ages 3.5 to 6; started in special education program in mainstreamed elementary school in first grade using SEE method; attended deaf high school using ASL and English signs

Preferred Mode of Communication

simultaneous speech and signs; lives in French-speaking Quebec, Canada, with relatives who use English with her

Speech Intelligibility

NTID Write-Down Test5: 8% (1.3 on a 1=low to 5=high scale). Rated as 1.0 in reading the Rainbow Passage (Fairbanks)2

Voice (Qualitative)

NTID Voice Evaluation: Severe vocal tension which at times results in inability to sustain phonation; severe problem coordinating respiration and phonation; severe problem with prosody (blending and co-articulation); loudness was much below appropriate intensity levels.

Voice (Quantitative)

Kay Visi-Pitch III: Mean pitch on sustained /i/ = 287 Hz, sustained /a/ = 170 Hz, read words = 207 Hz, read sentences = 216 Hz, conversations = 272Hz; Minimum pitch = 119 Hz; Maximum pitch = 400 Hz

Speech/Voice (Comprehensive)

Fisher-Logemann Test of Articulation Competence3: total score = 271 (out of a possible 600) for a percentile ranking below 30% for her age and degree of hearing loss; correct number of syllables in words = 83%; correct word stress = 39%; correct intonation = 17%; pitch control = 35% due to frequent inappropriate pitch elevation at the end of words and/or high average pitch


Fisher-Logemann Test of Articulation Competence3 (words) 78% total errors; 82% consonant errors; 61% vowel errors; of consonant errors 55% = deletions, 24% = manner of phonation errors, 9% = voicing errors; correct consonant sounds = /b, d, w, f, v, l/


Written language sample, a retelling of Bob's Surprise Birthday Party Picture Series; accurate description of most story elements; errors in the use of verb tenses, determiners and pronouns

Therapy Goals and Objectives

Long Term

  • To develop interactive spoken and signed English
  • To build a phonetic repertoire
  • To improve intelligibility of functional words and phrases

Short term - 1st ten weeks of therapy

  • To stimulate pitch awareness and control
  • To reinforce correctly articulated phonemes when they occur in therapy
  • To explore potential contributions of tactile, proprioceptive, auditory and/or visual feedback related to pitch level and phoneme production

Short term - 2nd ten weeks of therapy

  • To stabilize habitual pitch at 250Hz or below
  • To increase awareness of occurrences of inappropriately high pitch and/or loudness
  • To stimulate awareness and correct productions of voiced vs. voiceless consonants
  • To stimulate correct production of vowels
Therapy Progress
  • 1st ten weeks—primarily diagnostic therapy
    • Feedback: Use of Kay Visi-Pitch III for visual feedback related to pitch level/control and vowel production was effective; tactile feedback was not beneficial for pitch monitoring; auditory feedback was not used because student never brought hearing aids to therapy.
    • Pitch: Able to produce low vowels in isolation and cvc's at a relatively low pitch (below 250Hz) but high and front vowels were always at an inappropriately high pitch. All utterances were terminated with a pitch rise.
    • Articulation: Consonants /h, m, s, b, d, w/ were reinforced when they occurred correctly during therapy sessions.
    • Speech Intelligibility: 6% (1.2 rating) for a gain of 4% on the NTID Write-Down Test.
  • 2nd ten weeks of therapy
    • Feedback: Use of Kay Visi-Pitch III (Real-Time Pitch) and IBM SpeechViewer II (Waveform and Spectrograms) to reinforce pitch level and air management on /s, t, sh, m, n/; hearing aids were used for several sessions with no noticeable benefit for monitoring pitch or speech sound production
    • Pitch: Consistently able to maintain pitch below 300 Hz on sustained vowels, words, phrases and read sentences; unable to eliminate habituated terminal pitch rise in any context; unable to control loudness or pitch in spontaneous speech or conversations.
    • Articulation: Able to recognize visual differences between voiced and voiceless consonants on spectrograms; unable to produce voiceless stops; moderate success in producing voiceless fricatives /s, sh/ in cvc words in structured drills and in some functional words/phrases the student wanted to practice.
    • Speech Intelligibility: 22% (1.9 rating) on the NTID Write-Down Test for a gain of 16% (20% total gain since instruction began).

Prognosis for attaining intelligible speech is guarded after 20 hours of instruction. Improvements in pitch level and control were achieved quickly but no further gains were made. Student 1 is stimulable to correct on very few speech sounds. Gains were made because she more consistently produced sounds from her limited repertoire and reduced the number of deletions of final sounds in words. She may be able to achieve semi-intelligibility on a set of functional words and phrases if she learns to self-monitor pitch and carryover her best sound productions into spontaneous speech.