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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evaluation of communication therapy as aural rehabilitation Feldbruegge, William J.


This research evaluated an aural rehabilitation program based on methods outlined by Erber in his book Communication Therapy for Hearing-impaired Adults (1988). This approach is linguistically based, focuses on the hard-of-hearing client’s ability to participate in conversations and provides additional therapy to a person who is a familiar communication partner of the client. The program attempts to increase the client’s and the communication partner’s metalinguistic knowledge and their awareness of how language is used in conversations. Therapy is intended to facilitate the use of this knowledge in the prevention and repair of conversation breakdown and thereby enable the hard-of-hearing client to participate more fully in conversations. This research covered three areas of investigation: benefit evaluation for both the hard-of-hearing client and the communication partner; evaluation of the program delivery by comparing benefits associated with four and eight hours of therapy; and a critical examination of the evaluation methods available for assessing conversations. The results indicated that both participants derived benefits from the therapy program. The subject of the research, a 19-year-old male with a severe-to-profound hearing loss, benefited from therapy predominantly by becoming more able to effectively repair conversations and by becoming more confident and assertive in conversations. The communication partner benefited from therapy by becoming more efficient in relaying information to the subject and by improved ability to make conversational repairs. Other benefits were in the form of increased satisfaction in the way therapy helped both of them to engage in conversations. Examination of the data that indicated benefit associated with therapy suggested that eight hours of therapy were of more benefit than four hours. This information was limited, however, and these results are not conclusive. Examination of the data collected by objective and subjective evaluation methods showed that the results assessing benefit did not always agree. It was concluded that the different evaluation methods were each suited to different communication related measures. The clinical implication is that a variety of measures may be required for evaluation purposes, because presently no single measure samples the wide spectrum of communication skills or client concerns. As the hard-of-hearing subject in this study was a young adult with a significant congenital hearing loss, the results suggested that this approach may be valuable to a variety of clients, beyond the intended focus of adults with acquired hearing loss. The research supports the belief that substantial benefit can be derived by including a partner in the therapy process.

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