Original Research

A case study of interventions to facilitate learning for pupils with hearing impairment in Tanzania

Tron V. Tronstad, Bjørn Gjessing, Ingvild Ørland, Tone Øderud, Cosmas Mnyanyi, Isaack Myovela, Jon Øygarden
African Journal of Disability | Vol 11 | a974 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v11i0.974 | © 2022 Tron V. Tronstad, Bjørn Gjessing, Ingvild Ørland, Tone Øderud, Cosmas Mnyanyi, Isaack Myovela, Jon Øygarden | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 November 2021 | Published: 10 November 2022

About the author(s)

Tron V. Tronstad, Digital Department, SINTEF, Trondheim, Norway
Bjørn Gjessing, Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; and Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital, Oslo, Norway
Ingvild Ørland, Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
Tone Øderud, Digital Department, SINTEF, Trondheim, Norway
Cosmas Mnyanyi, Department of Psychology and Special Education, Faculty of Education, Open University of Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, United Republic of
Isaack Myovela, Department of Hearing Impairment, Patandi College of Special Needs and Inclusive Setting, Arusha, Tanzania, United Republic of
Jon Øygarden, Digital Department, SINTEF, Trondheim, Norway


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Abstract

Background: Hearing is essential for learning in school, and untreated hearing loss may hinder quality education and equal opportunities. Detection of children with hearing loss is the first step in improving the learning situation, but effective interventions must also be provided. Hearing aids can provide great benefit for children with hearing impairment, but this may not be a realistic alternative in many low- and middle-income countries because of the shortage of hearing aids and hearing care service providers.

Objective: In this study, alternative solutions were tested to investigate the potential to improve the learning situation for children with hearing impairment.

Method: Two technical solutions (a personal amplifier with and without remote microphone) were tested, in addition to an approach where the children with hearing impairment were moved closer to the teacher. A Swahili speech-in-noise test was developed and used to assess the effect of the interventions.

Results: The personal sound amplifier with wireless transmission of sound from the teacher to the child gave the best results in the speech-in-noise test. The amplifier with directive microphone had limited effect and was outperformed by the intervention where the child was moved closer to the teacher.

Conclusion: This study, although small in sample size, showed that personal amplification with directive microphones did little to assist children with hearing impairment. It also indicated that simple actions can be used to improve the learning situation for children with hearing impairment but that the context (e.g. room acoustical parameters) must be taken into account when implementing interventions.

Contribution: The study gives insight into how to improve the learning situation for school children with hearing impairment and raises concerns about some of the known technical solutions currently being used.


Keywords

hearing impairment; personal sound amplification system; speech-in-noise test; hearing interventions; school children.

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