Ethnographic research: The interrelation of spatial awareness, everyday life, laboratory environments, and effects of hearing aids
Hearing is multidimensional. It affects the whole body and yet it is still an open question whether and how general factors of everyday life are affected by the use of modern hearing aids (HA) with different signal processing options. This study addressed, therefore, the question to what extent HA may shape the HA users’ everyday life. Accordingly, the behavior of N=22 HA users and non-users was observed experimentally using a theory-based ethnographic research design that comprises written reports and several steps of theorizing and reasoning. Data were collected in two specific everyday life situations (road traffic and restaurant) and by three modes (unaided, omnidirectional, and directional microphone mode). The analytical results of the ethnographical studies were summarized and used for testing hypotheses in an advanced laboratory with virtual audio-visual environments reproducing the same everyday life situations. Different typical behavior patterns were identified by means of fieldnotes, indicating that hearing impaired users with the first experience of HA provision showed comparatively expressive orientation reactions towards spatial sound sources. The behavior analyses were partly confirmed by questionnaire data. The analytical results led to first suggestions and improvements for the ongoing (re-)creation of virtual audio-visual scenes.
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