Age-related changes in the visual perception of phonologically significant contrasts

L. Kishon-Rabin*, Y. Henkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the present study was to determine whether the ability to speechread phonological contrasts is influenced by age. Forty-eight subjects were equally represented in three age groups: 8-9 years, 11-12 years and adults 20-29 years. The Hebrew version of the Speech Pattern Contrast test was administered by speechreading alone. Results showed that: age influenced performance; performance was contrast-dependent (place contrasts highly visible, manner and vowel height partially visible and voicing contrast invisible); hierarchy of contrast performance was similar for all age groups; Hebrew and English differ in the visual accessibility to speech contrasts in final voicing only; and females were found to be poorer speechreaders than males for the partially visible contrasts. The results suggest that speechreading at the phonological level follows a developmental course. The implications of these findings extend to recommendations provided to children in noisy listening conditions, speechreading training in hearing-impaired children and those with central auditory processing disorders CAPD, and to the design of sensory aids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-374
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Audiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Developmental changes
  • Phonological contrasts
  • Speechreading


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