Auditory verbal education

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The auditory-verbal education (also called auditory-verbal therapy or method) describes a pedagogical approach in which people and especially small children with hearing impairments are trained in their residual hearing and in their spoken language expression skills.

When oralism the formation of speech sounds and is read from the mouth in the foreground while deaf self-help organizations, the " Bilingual Education " propagate in both sign language are applied as well as spoken language, the training is conducted in the form of auditory-verbal education.


The first beginnings of speech education for the deaf already existed in the 16th century ( Pedro Ponce de León ) and the 18th century ( Samuel Heinicke ). At the Milan Congress of 1880, the leading educators of the time decided to train all deaf people in spoken language using the oral method . This led to the so-called method dispute, which continues to this day .

Before the Nazis arrived, Vienna played a leading role in education for the deaf. Viktor Urbantschitsch promoted speech education with a method that built on what was left of hearing. His successor at the Vienna- Döbling asylum for the deaf and dumb , Adolf Freunthaller , succeeded in learning to speak two-year-old deaf children using these methods as early as 1920.

Some pedagogues and specialists who were convinced of hearing education, such as Emil Fröschels , had emigrated from Europe to the United States before the outbreak of war , which enabled the development of hearing and language in America to develop, while in Europe there was a setback in the education of all disabled children.

The auditory-verbal method developed in the Anglo-Saxon region in the 1950s was based on spoken language , whereas the "French" method used sign language .

Initially, aids such as hearing aids and stethoscopes were used to reinforce the residual hearing . The development of medicine and technology promoted the trend towards the spoken language method. In the 1960s, the first hearing aids suitable for deaf people were developed.

The breakthrough came in the late 1970s with the computer chip , which made hearing aids amplified, miniaturized and programmable. This enabled real auditory-verbal therapy to be offered at the beginning of the 1980s. In the mid-1990s, the cochlear implant (CI) was also established in children. This made it possible for the first time to artificially replace a sense organ together with the auditory-verbal method as hearing training.

Institutions and international congresses

Pioneers of auditory verbal education


The main goal of auditory-verbal education is as natural a spoken language as possible with good open language understanding as well as a normal vocabulary and grammar knowledge corresponding to the age, school level and cognitive abilities. This is intended to enable children to integrate into regular schools . This is practiced successfully in many countries today.

The auditory-verbal education is usually used for people who are severely hearing impaired , partially deaf or deaf . The approximately 98% of all deaf people remaining residual hearing should be trained to language (spoken that spoken language ) by technical means such as modern hearing aids or cochlear implant (CI) can be understood. A CI fitting is indicated when sound-amplifying hearing aids can no longer achieve adequate speech understanding, which is the case with damaged hair cells.

The auditory-verbal training can also take place if there is no residual hearing and the person concerned has a cochlear implant or a brainstem implant (ABI). Most CI wearers can understand spoken language and make phone calls with this technical aid and appropriate listening training .

As the word auditory-verbal already suggests, this approach is twofold: on the one hand the hearing is trained, on the other hand the language is taught. The (almost) lack of hearing makes it difficult to understand speech and affects the perception of acoustic beat, tone modeling, intonation and volume. Therefore, these three skills must be trained. Language acquisition in turn supports hearing training.

Significance of the two time windows of language development for early recognition and intervention

The two time windows are consistent with recent research in experimental neurophysiology and neuroscience about the existence of a critical (permanent) and a sensitive (particularly susceptible) period in human development. They confirm the importance of early detection ( newborn hearing screening) and intervention (hearing amplification, hearing education).

The first time window (critical period) extends up to 8–9 months. In the 1970s, while providing deaf infants with bilateral hearing aids, speech therapist Ciwa Griffiths discovered that the hearing aids could be removed after a few months because the babies had developed normal hearing. Their clinical study from 1969 to 1973 of 21 deaf infants showed that 67% of the infants who participated in the study and received hearing aids up to 8 months of age developed normal hearing, while none of the infants who did so after 8 months ago hearing aids were given, which was the case. In a similar study carried out by otologist Arpad Götze at Janos Spital in Budapest, Hungary 1978–1981 with 68 deaf infants, 51 (75%) were able to develop normal hearing, the other 17 had deaf parents or were only receiving their hearing aids after 8.5 months.

Alison Gopnik from the University of California demonstrated with the study of child learning from 2000 that seven-month-old Japanese and American babies could distinguish equally well between “R” and “L”, which after ten months is no longer possible with Japanese babies was. This study confirms the results of brain research that the brain, controlled by the ears, specializes in the mother tongue and therefore foreign sounds that it cannot hear in the language environment after the 8th – 9th birthday. Month. In the case of deaf children who receive no sensory input at all, the restriction is even more massive.

The second time window (sensitive period) ranges from 8–9 months to around 3.5 years, which is viewed as the maturity period for language development . The longer acoustic input is withheld from the brain, the greater the resulting sensory deprivation , which causes a lack of sensory stimulation of the brain. Not only does sensory deprivation prevent auditory learning, it also prevents neural growth. In the absence of normal stimulation, there is a sensitive period up to about 3.5 years, during which the human central auditory system remains maximally plastic, after the age of 7, plasticity is greatly reduced.


The auditory-verbal education of a child with hearing impairment must start as early as possible; that means immediately after the diagnosis of deafness or in the first year of life. The diagnosis is made using a newborn hearing screening , an audiogram or a BERA . In the third year of life, children raised using the auditory-verbal method have the same or often larger - if specially trained - vocabulary as children with normal hearing.

The parents must also practice language acquisition with the child on a daily basis. The more interactively the child is spoken to, the more his auditory-verbal skills develop. It is important to ensure that the sentences in the language with the child are spoken clearly but normally. The volume must also be normal; after all, speaking to the child should be grammatically correct. The latter is also important because many deaf people do not understand or misunderstand the important endings in the German language. The child needs a lot of feedback so that they can correct their pronunciation, namely to the usual volume, correct intonation, correct beat and correct tone modeling.

The application must be continuously adapted to the age . You play games with the smaller child in order to be able to arouse or maintain the child's attention, while therapy sessions almost take place with the older child and the adolescent , in which more practical tasks such as homework can be dealt with.

Another important feature in the application of auditory-verbal education is the input-oriented training of the child. The child should receive as much information as possible so that they can apply what they have learned, vocabulary and grammar on their own . The idea behind this is that children with normal hearing learn the same way. Hearing impaired children are only limited in their hearing ability. Therefore, the learning process, even if it usually starts late, should proceed in exactly the same way as with normal hearing children. In German-speaking countries, children with hearing impairments usually have a later hearing experience than children with normal hearing, in whom hearing already begins in the 6th month of pregnancy in the womb, while children born deaf are usually only diagnosed as deaf at an average of two years and only then correspondingly Receive sound-enhancing technical aids. Children who were brought up using the auditory-verbal method from the first year of life achieve the same vocabulary as a normal hearing child by the age of three and can be fully integrated into regular school.


In many countries there are various advice centers with experts who support and advise parents. They come home and show the parents how the therapy works, discuss problems with the parents, support them in solving problems like at school, and develop the therapy with them according to their age and progress. The audio educators or deaf educators need the help of the parents in order to promote the auditory-verbal development of the child, as they can usually only work with the child two to four hours a week. The actual therapy or hearing training must therefore be supported by the parents and siblings. The audio educators have a therapeutic and instructive role.


The so-called sibling problem is known above all, which, however, occurs in special education in general (i.e. not only among people with a hearing impairment). The problem lies in the fact that children with disabilities receive more attention from the perspective of the siblings through the appropriate promotion of the impaired skills and also objectively need more. Many siblings conclude from this that the parents prefer this child and that the disability is only being pushed forward. This can be countered by involving the siblings in the upbringing so that they experience that their sibling actually has a disability. It must be explained to them empathetically that this is why - and not for any other reason - the child needs more attention. On the other hand, you should create a balance for the siblings and give them special benefits yourself.

Although the problem of siblings is one of the more difficult in education for the hearing impaired , there are only a few scientific studies in the field of education for the hearing impaired.

Differentiation from oralism

In contrast to auditory-verbal education, oralism is fixed on the mouth. In addition, this educational method is output-oriented, i.e. the child should articulate or repeat as much as possible. As a result, the pronunciation can be good, but vocabulary and grammar may suffer. In addition, the auditory system is not promoted because the child is used to lip reading while learning to hear first.


  • Armin Löwe: Education for the hearing impaired internationally. History - countries - people - congresses. An introduction for parents, teachers and therapists of hearing impaired children. HVA Schindele, Heidelberg 1997, ISBN 3-89149-183-2
  • Susann Schmid-Giovannini: From stethoscope to cochlear implant. History and stories from sixty years of professional life . Verlag S. Schmid-Giovannini, Meggen 2007
  • Fiona Bollag: The girl who came out of silence . Verlag Ehrenwirth, Bergisch Gladbach 2006, ISBN 3-431-03685-6 (life story of a former student of Susann Schmid-Giovannini)
  • Manfred Spreng: Physiological basics of child hearing development and hearing education . Biocybernetics working group, University of Erlangen [1]
  • Eckhard Friauf: Neural foundations of perception - the "critical period" in early childhood development . University of Kaiserslautern [2]

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ SGB-FSS: Charter of the Deaf Self -Help
  2. Viktor Urbantschitsch: About listening exercises for deaf and dumb and deaf people in later life . Urban & Schwarzenberg publishing house, Vienna 1895
  3. P.Schumann: history of deaf nature , publishing Diesterweg, Frankfurt a. M. 1940
  4. Ciwa Griffiths, J. Ebbin: Effectiveness of early detection and auditory stimulation on the speech and language of hearing impaired children . HEAR Center 1978
  5. Pedagogical specialist portal: Arpad Götze: True habilitation for hearing impaired infants, in: Hörgeschädigte Kinder 20, 1983
  6. Critical period: Asians cannot pronounce an "R" ( Memento from September 8, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  7. A. Kral: Early hearing experience and sensitive development phases, ENT 2009
  8. ^ Judith Simser: The Importance of Early Detection and Intervention , in: Auditory-Verbal Therapy for Children with Hearing Impairment , Annals Academy of Medicine, Singapore, Volume 34, May 2005
  9. Manfred Spreng: Physiological basics of child hearing development and hearing education , University of Erlangen