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The Feeling of Well-Being in Children with Hearing Disabilities

Background and aims

Since 1960, hearing-impaired children in German-speaking Switzerland have been given integrated education in regular schools. Technical aids, audio-pedagogical accompaniment and co-operation with the regular teaching staff make this possible. Research projects carried out in recent years have been primarily concerned with exploring the effect of integrative school settings with regard to their efficiency, i.e. on the performance/learning successes of these children. Aspects of their psycho-social feeling in their everyday lives, in and out of school, have not yet been exhaustively researched. However, the feeling of well-being, as has been shown by several studies, is crucial to performance in and out of school and influences later contentment and health.


It must therefore be questioned how hearing-impaired 11-13 year old children receiving integrated schooling cope with the demands of their everyday lives:

  • In which situations do they feel stressed?
  • Is the quality of the condition influenced by personal factors: age, gender, state of hearing etc.?
  • Is the quality of the condition influenced by environmental factors: technology, didactics etc.?
  • Are there any differences to normal-hearing peers?

The perspectives are focused on the subjective evaluation of the everyday situation of the children and brought into line with factors of personality, the social network, the availability of auditive aids, and didactic teaching principles.


This quantitative based study was implemented using 78 hearing impaired 11-13 year old children in German-speaking Switzerland. Each of them was integrated into a regular classroom environment. The control group consisted of a normal-hearing child from each of the respective classes. A total of 156 children participated in the investigation. The teaching staff contributed data on the didactical setting.

The focal point of the study was a method that measures the direct experience of an actual situation (Experience Sampling Method, ESM).

This is a signal-contingent random time sampling method that reproduces the subjective perception of the test person (no distorting memory effects and no adoption of alien views through observation). The actual situation, the actions and the feelings experienced are determined by means of a questionnaire. The test persons are given an electronic signal device and several copies of this questionnaire. During one week, approximately seven signals a week are pre-programmed (random times) when the test persons fill in the short questionnaire (approx. two minutes). This results in approx. 49 situation reports per test person. In addition, socio-demographic details are required in order to describe the random tests and elaborate the individual preconditions. Data about stress experience and stress management (vulnerability, strategies and symptomatics) are acquired by means of a standardised questionnaire.


Intra-individual and inter-individual differences in isolated situations were analysed during the course of a week. This made it possible to identify situations that contribute to a feeling of well-being, and this in its turn created an input relating to the creation of situations in and out of school.


Children aged between 11 and 13 years old evaluated their everyday life positively.

Differences in condition are primarily influenced by personality (44% of the variance), state of hearing accounted for only 6% of the variance.

There are few differences and many similarities between children with hearing impairments and normal-hearing children of the same age.

Several differences, although slight, show that age, gender and state of hearing influence the quality of the condition:

  • The younger the child, the better he/she feels. The first clear differences between normal-hearing and hearing-impaired children come with the onset of puberty and the transition to lower secondary school.
  • Stress increases with age in hearing impaired children but not in children from the normal-hearing control group.
  • Hearing-impaired girls feel more stress than normal-hearing girls and both these groups feel more stress than boys.
  • Children with a unilateral hearing impairment gauge their wellbeing the lowest, children with remaining hearing gauge their wellbeing the highest.
  • Hearing-impaired children who use an FM apparatus (a wireless signal transmitting apparatus that picks up the voice of the speaker using a microphone worn close to the mouth, reduces background noise to a minimum and corrects echo) have on the whole a greater feeling of wellbeing than those children who do not use it.
  • In ill-defined or loud situations, children with hearing impairments feel more active but also more stressed and insecure than normal-hearing children.
  • Hearing-impaired children need to ask questions in more situations, they are less secure but have less fear of failure than normal-hearing children.


The positive results exhibited by the children investigated in this study can, amongst other things, be put down to good familial, medical-technological, audio-pedagogic and pedagogic support. The results give no reason to reduce the existing possibilities for support and cooperation by the audio-pedagogic services. On the contrary, they indicate that the measures are effective and that things are heading in the right direction.

The fact that children with a unilateral hearing impairment feel more stress than average deserves particular attention.

It is worthwhile remaining informed about the possible effects of hearing impairments in regular schools. By observing methodical-didactic rules (individualisation, clear structures, rules for discussion, communication breaks, silence etc.) lessons for hearing-impaired children – and for all the other children – will be easier.

The use of FM apparatus deserves particular attention.

On the basis of the results showing that the randomly sampled older children gauged their wellbeing low, it seems sensible to repeat the investigation in 2 years time with the same random sample.


  • Audeoud, M. & Wertli, E. (2011).Nicht anders, aber doch verschieden. Befindensqualität hörgeschädigter Kinder in Schule und Freizeit. Bern: SZH.
  • Audeoud, M. & Wertli, E. (2009). Alltagserleben hörgeschädigter Menschen. Perspektiven Schweizerischer Hörgeschädigtenforschung. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Heilpädagogik, 15 (5), 44-49.



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