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Speech, Sign, or Multilingualism for Children With Hearing Loss: Quantitative Insights Into Caregivers' Decision Making (Crowe et al., 2014)

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journal contribution
posted on 01.07.2014, 00:00 by Kathryn Crowe, Sharynne McLeod, David H. McKinnon, Teresa Y. C. Ching
Purpose The authors sought 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 article to the qualitative investigation described in Crowe, Fordham, McLeod, and Ching (2014) .
Method Through a questionnaire, 177 caregivers of 157 Australian children with hearing loss (ages 3;5 to 9;4 [years;months], Mage = 6;6) rated the importance of a range of potential influences on their decision making regarding their children's communication. The majority of children were reported to use speech (96.6%) as part or all of their communication system, with fewer children 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 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. The advice of speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and specialist teachers was more important to caregivers than advice from medical practitioners and nonprofessionals.
Conclusion Caregivers' decision making regarding communication mode and language use is influenced by factors that are not equally weighted and that relate to child, family, community, and advice from others. Knowledge of these factors can assist professionals in supporting caregivers making choices regarding communication.


The LOCHI study was partly funded by the National Institutes of Health Grant R01DC008080 awarded to Teresa Y. C. Ching; Kathryn Crowe was supported by a scholarship from the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science Research and Tertiary Education, and an Excellence in Research in Early Years Education Collaborative Research network scholarship from Charles Sturt University; Sharynne McLeod was supported by the Australian Research Council Future Fellowship Grant FT0990588. Kathryn Crowe and Teresa Y. C. Ching acknowledge the financial support of the HEARing CRC, established and supported under the Cooperative Research Centres Program, an initiative of the Australian government. The authors acknowledge the assistance of Lorraine Stephens in completing the data entry. Alison Burdon, Cindy Lim, Carol Burleigh, Doreen Higa, Robyn Cantle-Moore, and the LOCHI team provided consultation on questionnaire content.