Older adults with hearing loss often report they have difficulty understanding their young grandchildren, even when wearing hearing aids that improve audibility. We collaborated with Dr. Marisha Speights Atkins to examine perception of child talkers by older adults, using child speech from the Speech Exemplars and Evaluation Database (SEED). Differences between adult and child talkers include the size of the vocal tract, resulting in a smaller vowel space. In our study, listeners who were older or had more hearing loss had more difficulty recognizing child talkers.  The effects were smaller for adults who regularly spent time with small children. These results may give us a starting point for training strategies or customized hearing aid processing. For more information, see our recent American Academy of Audiology presentation.

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We are grateful to have ongoing support for our work from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders.