Can speechreading be trained in young hearing children?

Can speechreading be trained in young hearing children?

First Author: Elizabeth Worster -- University College London
Additional authors/chairs: 
Rachel Dennan; Charles Hulme; Mairéad MacSweeney
Keywords: Reading development, Phonological awareness, Speechreading (lipreading), Intervention
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Although hearing people predominantly rely on auditory information during speech perception, visual information is also important. Speechreading (lipreading) ability is related to reading ability and phonological awareness in deaf and hearing children. Pimperton et al., (2019) showed that speechreading can be trained in deaf children. The current study investigated whether speechreading training can 1) improve speechreading in hearing children and 2) boost phonics outcomes beyond the phonics training they receive at school.

Method: 92 4-5 year old hearing children completed measures of speechreading, reading and phonological awareness and then were randomly assigned to two groups. One group completed 3 weeks of speechreading training games (adapted from Pimperton et al., 2019) for 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The other group were business-as-usual controls. Both groups were tested again immediately after training and three months later.

Results: The intervention group performed better than the control group on the single-word speechreading post-test when controlling for baseline scores on the same test. This was maintained at the 3-month follow-up. There were no group effects on phonological awareness or reading as a result of the intervention. However, an interaction between group and initial scores on phoneme blending indicated that the poorest performing children on this task improved as a result of training.

Conclusion: Improvements in speechreading can arise following short-term training in hearing children. Although there was no group effect on phonological awareness, visual speech information may provide an additional route to developing phonological skills for those with poorer initial performance.