Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - ICARE (Improving Children's Auditory Rehabilitation)

Communication through language is vital to develop and maintain everything around us. By 15 years of age, about 5 out of 1000 children suffer from a moderate, severe or profound hearing impairment that can potentially affect communication, learning, psychosocial development and academic achievement if not appropriately handled.
The EU promotes the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society. However, full active inclusion in an oral society can only be achieved through cooperation and involvement across disciplines (language, psychology, audiology, engineering, special education,...). It is therefore of fundamental importance to approach the inclusion of children with hearing impairment in an interdisciplinary manner, and to train future experts to adopt such principles in their research and practice.

The objectives of improving Children’s Auditory REhabilitation (iCARE) are twofold: 1) to provide training to create a new generation of researchers capable of exploiting the synergies between different disciplines to optimize spoken communication in children with hearing impairment, and 2) to combine research across disciplines to develop novel methods, training skills and procedures for improving auditory rehabilitation. More details can be found on the website

iCARE involves 16 European partner institutions (7 academic full-partners, 2 industrial full-partners, and 7 associated academic partners). The proposed training consortium is unique, because it involves academic, industrial and socio-economic partners who are from very different disciplines, yet who are all of utmost importance to the core issue: optimizing inclusion of children with hearing impairment in an oral society.

Description of the work performed
The iCARE research training program includes 11 early stage researchers (ESRs) and 5 experience researchers (ERs) divided over 4 main research WPs. Five ESRs and 1 ER are involved in communication accessibility (WP1) by investigating the acoustic, visual, cognitive and language constituents of children with different degrees of hearing impairment.

Three ESRs and 2 Ers are involved in improving acoustics (WP2) which focus on the impact of real-life acoustic environments on children’s perception. Using various expertise at the different locations novel methods and methodologies are developed to understand the influence of acoustic processing on sound processing in daily life. In auditory remediation (WP3) 2 ESRs and 1 ER are researching innovative intervention and training methods to assist in building communication skills among children, teachers and caregivers. Finally, in integration and e-learning (WP 4) two ERs and 1 ESR integrate knowledge of the previous WPs to develop a general protocol with regard to optimizing spoken communication. The development and use of the e-learning platform is an important linkage between the research and training WPs (5-7). The iCARE e-learning system will be used for additional training of the ESRs and ERs for the benefit of the children with HI, and to assist cross-pollination of expertise

Description of main results
During the 1st year we succesfully recruited most fellows. The recruitment strategy of the network (WP11 – Milestone 2) was very effective for both ESRs and ERs (via euraxess, iCARE website, other websites, electronic mail). Only ER2 (17 mnths) will be recruited in 2016/2017. The gender balance is... In the 1st year the website was developed (; it has become an important resource environment. Moreover, associated partner Ecophon organized an additional training for all fellows.

During the 2nd year all fellows have obtained ethical approvoal for their research from their host institution and are actively participating in the iCARE consortium (see attachments). Most fellows are also enrolled in their respective doctoral schools (local training), are carrying out their research and several are currently working on reports and and/or peer-review paper. Partners and fellows have been involved in outreach activities, local, international and interdisciplinary training, and all fellows have done a short secondment. Each fellow has panned out his or her research and training in a career development plan, a research workplan and yearly submits an update of his/her research in a reseach progress report. These documents are monitored by the respective workpackage leaders and are stored on the website.
iCARE provides a research and training environment that is not realizable by any of the participating institutions individually. The 1st Winterschool was very successful (see pic), the 2nd one in Aachen is expected to be too, as it is held partly together with and partly following the German national conference on Acoustics (DAGA2016). ERs are also involved in the organization of winterschools. All fellows have also already presented at other international events. In addition, webinars are organized (by ER1) in which several partners and fellows participate, present their work and ask questions. First steps have been taken to develop and distribute e-learning modules (WP4 – Milestone 5). These will be evaluated at the 2nd Winterschool in Aachen. Up to now all milestones and deliverables have been met.

Expected final results and their potential impact and use
During the coming two years the diversity in scientific expertise and application oriented interests will even be more exploited through collaborations that have appeared from the network-wide training events, secondments and other opportunities. The role of the industry is essential in this training and all companies assist with actively exposing fellows to the industrial environment. In addition to the diversity of research more e-learning modules will be developed with focus on interdisciplinarity within the wide field of iCARE. Through the interdisciplinary and intersectoral training fellows will gain important and relevant experience. The balanced distribution of leading expertise in hearing, education, information technology, acoustics, and the international and intersectoral involvement are guarantees for a well-rounded training and research experience. and lead to novel developments.

A camera-ready two-page summary with pictures of the consortium and overview of the project is given in attachment.

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Life Sciences
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