Production of consonants by prelinguistically deaf children with cochlear implants
Consonant production following the sensory restoration of audition was investigated in 22 prelinguistically deaf French children who received cochlear implants. Spontaneous speech productions were recorded at 6, 12, and 18 months post-surgery and consonant inventories were derived from both glossable and non-glossable phones using two acquisition criteria. The results showed that children initiated appropriate production of consonants after six months of implant use. Stops and labials were the most frequently produced speech sounds, whereas glides and palatals were still infrequent after 18 months. Speech accuracy also improved throughout the study. Consonant visibility appeared to influence the order of acquisition in the first months following the implantation and, as experience with auditory information increased, patterns of development tended to resemble those seen in children with normal hearing. Finally, a signed mode of communication and oral rehabilitation programs prior to implantation were better outcome predictors than age at implantation.