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Adolescents with hearing disabilities in higher education

Publication date: 01 January 2016

A study into how experiences and language skills affect the academic success of adolescents with hearing disabilities.


Project description

Both the technological developments and the introduction of legislation on inclusive education (‘passend onderwijs’) in August 2014 led to the question of whether higher education is  prepared sufficiently for adolescents with hearing disabilities. Looking at the performance of hearing-disabled young people with current hearing aid technology (including cochlear implant), it is expected that an increasing number of adolescents with hearing disabilities will register for higher education. So far, several studies aimed mostly at the younger age groups (pre-school, primary education). With this study, the experiences and skills of adolescents with hearing disabilities are identified. This PhD research focuses on adolescents with hearing disabilities (hearing implant or (CI) or hearing aid users) and studies the facilities needed within higher education to let adolescents with hearing disabilities participate in higher education.


Mapping and analysis of the experiences, needs and (language) skills of adolescents with hearing disabilities, so that recommendations can be formulated for accessible higher education for this group.

This is done by finding answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the (learning and education) experiences of adolescents with hearing disabilities, both within and outside of higher education?
  2. How does the acoustic environment of a variety of educational situations in higher education influence the access to education for adolescents with hearing disabilities?
  3. How do adolescents with hearing disabilities perform, both within and outside of higher education, in tests that measure proficiency in Dutch and English?
  4. How successful is the performance of young people with a hearing disabilities in higher education with regard to their language skills, study duration and success?

The study

The study population will consist of adolescents between 16 and 27 years old who wear a hearing aid or CI and have completed secondary school. There will be a comparison between a group of students inside and outside higher education. Furthermore, hearing disabled students will be compared to normally hearing peers. Flemish students from Ghent University are involved in this study as well. Hearing disabled students will be matched with normally hearing peers, to form the so-called control group. Language tests and interviews will be administered to conduct in both groups. Finally, study progress and language skills will be compared.


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