Intelligibility in Children with Cochlear Implants: The /t/ vs. /k/ Contrast

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Previous research has found that the speech of children with cochlear implants (CI) is less intelligible than the speech of peers with normal hearing (NH). This claim has been supported by research showing that children with CIs have difficulty with the late-acquired spectral contrast of /s/ vs. /ʃ/: correctly produced words containing these initial-consonants are less intelligible when produced by children with CIs relative to children with NH. The current study examined whether a similar result is observed with the early-acquired spectral contrast of /t/ vs. /k/. Crowd-sourced data were used to evaluate intelligibility of /t/- and /k/-initial words correctly produced by children with CIs and children with NH embedded in multi-talker babble. Results indicated that whole-word productions of children with CIs were less intelligible than productions of children with NH for words beginning with this early-acquired contrast. However, results also indicated this difference in intelligibility was not dependent on the intelligibility of the initial consonant alone.