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Changes in the Quality of Wellbeing of the Hearing Impaired from Childhood to Adolescence

Background and aims

How do hearing impaired children feel in and experience everyday life? This question was investigated in an initial study (A.8 Audeoud & Wertli, 2009), which, on the whole, showed their emotional and physical health to be satisfactory. There are, however, diverging mental health research results in the field of hearing impairment with regard to the quality of life and the quality of wellbeing of children and adolescents when viewing school-related integration. There appears to be hearing-status specific development trends that show an increase in stress symptoms relative to age, but not necessarily a concurrent decrease in wellbeing. A study carried out prior to this project showed a higher degree of activation in children with hearing impairments aged 11-13 (particularly in those with a unilateral or minor hearing impairment) when compared to their hearing peers participating in integrated schooling.


This longitudinal study aims to describe development in the quality of wellbeing of people with hearing impairments in an integrated school setting (using the same sample, today 14-16 year olds) and compare this development to their hearing peers. A further comparative group consisting of hearing impaired peers in a segregated school setting (cross-sectional study) will provide findings that probe differences between the two settings.


The following questions will be investigated in the framework of the study:

  1. Are there significant differences between hearing and hearing impaired 14-16 year olds with regard to their current feeling of wellbeing? Within the group, are there differences in the quality of wellbeing when the hearing impaired in integrated and segregated school settings are compared? In other words, is the school setting an influencing factor?
  2. Are there significant differences between hearing and hearing impaired adolescents with regard to their current state of wellbeing? (Research question 2a) What effects do conditions in their everyday setting (volume, social form, involvement of others in their own doings etc.) have on the current feeling of wellbeing of hearing and hearing impaired groups? (Research question 2b) Are these effects different in the two school settings?
  3. To what extent is there a change in the habitual feeling of wellbeing between data collection point 1 (initial study) and data collection point 2? What changes are there between the two points in time with regard to the current feeling of wellbeing?


Sample (N=100)

  • Hearing impaired and hearing adolescents in an integrated school setting from the previous study A.8 (now 14-16 year olds; 33 hearing impaired and 34 hearing adolescents) participated in the most recent study
  • 12 hearing impaired persons from the previous study in a segregated school setting („changers“ in schools for the hearing impaired)
  • Whole classes of hearing impaired adolescents (21 adolescents) in segregated school settings (schools for the hearing impaired) under the same conditions as the previous study (with no cognitive impairments or additional disabilities) to allow group comparisons on the one hand side and the observation of changes in these adolescents on the other

Data Collection Method

Central to this study is the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), a signal-contingent random time sampling method that reproduces the subjective perception of the test person during a range of activities with no distorting memory effects and no adoption of alien views through observation. The adolescents are given an iphone containing a questionnaire; filled out at five randomly selected times per day over a period of seven days, it enables the current feeling of wellbeing to be recorded. A standardised questionnaire is completed at the end of the test week.


  • Current feeling of wellbeing with ESM (with PDA, ESF of the preliminary study, Audeoud & Wertli, 2009) 7 times a day over a week period
  • Concluding questionnaire: habitual feeling of wellbeing and quality of life using kiddo-KINDL (Ravens-Sieberer & Bullinger, 2000, for adolescents), stress symptoms from SSKJ 3-8 (Lohaus et al., 2006), personality dimensions “big five” (Schallberger & Venetz, 1999)


With respect to the first aspect, the results reveal that the majority of young people are doing well. In addition, there are hardly any significant group differences. As regards the second aspect, the change in their condition as compared to three years ago, similarly, only a few differences can be observed:

  • The expected increase in the occurrence of stress (habitual condition) was in fact observed. However, it was not more pronounced for the hearing-impaired than for youths without hearing loss (there was no significant interaction effect), and was relatively similar for all three youth groups. It should be mentioned that in a descriptive sense, youths who moved from an integrated school to a separate one showed a smaller increase in the occurrence of stress.
  • Evidence suggested that all youths experienced a similar decrease in the current quality of their condition. As such, no change specifically among hearing-impaired youths could be shown. However, youths with unilateral hearing loss demonstrate the highest stress values in current daily situations.

Three years ago the current condition of hearing-impaired youths differed from the one observed among youths without hearing loss with respect to how positively they perceived their condition. Today no difference can be seen any more between hearing and hearing-impaired youths. However, this trend needs to be closely monitored because over the next few years it could turn out that hearing-impaired youths will once again differ from those without hearing loss, only this time with respect to how negatively they perceive their own condition. What is more, and based on the positive research results, one should not draw the erroneous conclusion that the specific support measures provided for hearing-impaired students may not be effective. On the contrary, it can be assumed that these support measures are indispensible and make a decisive contribution to the remarkable well-being of hearing-impaired children and youths - and this in all types of school settings.


  • Audeoud, M. & Lienhard, P. (2013). „Nicht anders – und doch verschieden?" Einblick in Ergebnisse zum Forschungsprojekt Veränderung der Befindensqualität Hörgeschädigter vom Kindes- zum Jugendalter". dfgs forum, 21, 34-43.
  • Audeoud, M. & Lienhard, P. (2012). Veränderung der Befindensqualität Hörgeschädigter vom Kinder- zum Jugendalter. Langzeiterfassung des subjektiven aktuellen und habituellen Befindens hörgeschädigter integriert und separiert beschulter Kinder und Jugendlicher. Schlussbericht. Zürich: Hochschule für Heilpädagogik. 
  • Audeoud, M. (2012). „Was machst du gerade? Und wie geht's dir dabei?“ Aktivierungslevel hörgeschädigter Jugendlicher in Schule und Freizeit. Eine Experience-Sampling-Method-Studie mittels iPhone. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Heilpädagogik, 18 (2), 12-19.
  • Audeoud, M. & Liechti, U. (2012). Wie erlebten ehemals integrierte hörgeschädigte Kinder ihren Alltagsstress? Unterschiedliche methodische Zugänge auf das subjektive Stressempfinden bei ehemals integriert beschulten hörgeschädigten Fünft- und Sechstklässlern. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Heilpädagogik, 18 (2), 20-29.
  • Audeoud, M. & Lienhard, P. (2012). Hörgeschädigte Jugendliche in ihrem Alltag: Wie geht es ihnen? Zeitschrift SONOS, Schweizerischer Verband für Gehörlosen- und Hörgeschädigten-Organisationen 106, 18-21.
  • Audeoud, M. & Müller-Suter, T. (2012). Erleben einseitig hörgeschädigte Kinder ihren Alltag anders als hörende oder beidseitig hörgeschädigte Kinder? Ergebnisse einer vergleichenden Schweizer Studie mit Experience Sampling Method. Hörgeschädigtenpädagogik, 66, 94-101.
  • Audeoud, M. & Wertli, E. (2011). Nicht anders, aber doch verschieden. Befindensqualität hörgeschädigter Kinder in Schule und Freizeit. Bern: SZH.


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