Current Projects (2019-2024)
The current Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (DHH-RERC) supports three research projects and three development projects:
- Optimizing Speech Recognition and Cognitive Outcomes for Older Cochlear Implant Users with Auditory Brain Training (Project R1) is evaluating the performance of older cochlear implant users completing a customized auditory brain training program. The goal is to determine the effectiveness of training based on speech recognition, neural responses, and cognitive function. Successful training could result in improved outcomes for communication and cognition, new client-centered care models, and better consumer access to effective training.
- Integrated Analytics for the Assessment and Management of Speech Sound Access for Children with Hearing Loss (Project R2) is designing and developing a data-driven approach to early intervention and hearing device fitting for infants and toddlers. There is now a large amount of data available from clinical assessments of speech discrimination, behavioral and observational data from parents, and data recorded from acoustical environments. Through powerful big-data techniques, parents and clinicians could predict and address developmental and language delays before they occur.
- Accessibility of Voice-Activated Interactive Personal Assistants (Project R3) is exploring ways to make voice-activated assistants accessible to deaf and hard of hearing individuals who prefer using sign language or do not speak clearly. Through rapid prototyping with simulated technologies, this project is expected to discover the most promising alternative ways to issue commands to Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, and related systems. Industry will receive practical guidance on where to focus their engineering resources.
- Development of a Deaf/Hard of Hearing Consumer and Technology Industry Alliance (Project D1) is creating a community where deaf/hard of hearing consumers and technology producers can collaborate together for mutual benefit – to inspire more responsive, accessible and innovative quality of life solutions that are attuned to consumer needs. The first year of the project is devoted to the development of a strategic plan, which will include the business model, governing structure, service offerings and growth strategy for the alliance. Deaf and hard of hearing consumer organizations are participating in the design and implementation of the strategic plan to ensure a consumer perspective starting at the earliest stage of the project.
- Optimizing the Wireless Ecosystem for Hearing Aids (Project D2) is exploring new ways to integrate hearing aids into an interconnected wireless ecosystem. A programming framework and toolkit are being created to simplify the development of apps that integrate hearing aids with Internet of Things devices and cloud-based services. The cloud has virtually unlimited processing power and will allow novel signal processing techniques that a hearing device would never be able to run. Consumers may experience significantly improved hearing in challenging listening situations through these apps.
- Platform for Ecological Evaluation of Sensory Aids (Project D3) is developing a portable system that will allow audiology clinics to employ realistic listening scenarios into the process of fitting new hearing devices with their clients. This system is expected to take the trial-and-error out of the fitting process. Consumers will be able to determine immediately how well their hearing aids, cochlear implants, and new over-the-counter devices work in situations that are most problematic for them.
Previous Projects (2014-2019)
The 2014-2019 Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (DHH-RERC) has supported three research projects and three development projects:
Previous Research Projects 2014-2019
The DHH-RERC’s previous research projects have contributed to advancing knowledge about how people who are deaf or hard of hearing can benefit from new technologies:
- Enhanced Aural Rehabilitation for Adult Cochlear Implant Users via Telerehab Technology (Project R1) has assessed the effectiveness of short-term rehabilitation programs and telerehab settings to determine whether they can improve speech understanding and communication in daily life. Telerehab offers consumers who may not otherwise have access to rehabilitation providers and programs.
- User-Driven Customization of Cochlear Implant Programming (Project R2) has researched options for a consumer-driven user interface for assisting the programming process, which would offer CI users control over their device programming.
- Validation of Hearing Aid Fitting for Infants and Toddlers (Project R3) has studied the relationship between physiological and behavioral measures of speech sound discrimination to develop a set of tools that helps clinicians improve the assessment and intervention of hearing aid fitting in infants and toddlers. Through the early use of hearing aids, parents can clinicians can reduce speech and language delays in infants and toddlers.
Previous Development Projects 2014-2019
The DHH-RERC’s previous development projects have contributed to developing best practices, testing new technologies, and bringing them to market:
- Development of a Consumer Model for a Technology-Focused Train-the-Trainer Program (Project D1), the Network of Consumer Hearing Assistive Technology Trainers (N-CHATT) has built a network of consumer trainers with the knowledge and skills necessary to train others impacted by hearing loss in the successful integration of hearing assistive technology. In addition to empowering consumers, this effort has resulted in a train-the-trainer model that may be replicable by other groups who use assistive technology.
- Context-Sensitive Assessment of Real-World Listening Situations via Integrated Smartphones and Hearing Aids (Project D2) has developed a new assessment system to understand what problems and factors prevent or reduce the use of hearing aids, based on integrating hearing aids with smartphones. Researchers and audiologists are able to use this information to develop better hearing technologies, and to fine tune the hearing aids
- Interactive Learning Environment for Optimizing Technology Use (Project D3) has aimed to develop a prototype for realistic simulation of real-world listening situations. The results may open up new avenues for rehabilitation that neither auditory training nor informational counseling provide.