Speech, sign, or multilingualism for children with hearing loss: Quantitative insights into caregivers' decision-making

Kathryn Crowe, Sharynne McLeod, David McKinnon, Teresa Y.C. Ching

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: To investigate the influence of a comprehensive range of factors on the decision-making of caregivers of children with hearing loss regarding the use of speech, the use of sign, spoken language multilingualism, and spoken language choice. This is a companion paper to the qualitative investigation described in Crowe, Fordham, McLeod and Ching (in press).
Method: Through a questionnaire, 177 caregivers of 157 Australian children with hearing loss (ages 3;5 to 9;4, mean age 6;6) rated the importance of a range of potential influences on their decision-making about their children's communication. The majority of children were reported to use speech (96.6%) as part or all of their communication system, with less reported to use sign (20.9%). Few children used more than one spoken language (8.3%).
Results: Proportional analyses and exploratory factor analyses were conducted. Overall, caregivers' decisions were influenced by their children's future lives, audiological and intervention characteristics, communication with those around them, community participation, access to intervention and education services in English, and concerns about their children's future lives. Advice of speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and specialist teachers was more important to caregivers than advice from medical practitioners and non-professionals.
Conclusion: Caregivers' decision-making about communication mode and language use is influenced by factors that are not equally weighted, and relate to child, family, community, and advice from others. Knowledge of these factors can assist professionals in supporting caregivers making choices regarding communication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-247
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

Grant Number

  • FT0990588


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