Special Ed Resources Support for Special Needs Child

Special Education Resources

Special education special needs resources
Special EducationTeaching GamesTipsDictionary Products Bookstore

Looking for something in particular?

More search options

Special Education Articles: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Articles: What Are Nonsegmental Aspects of Speech

What Are Nonsegmental Aspects of Speech

Author: Sally Lonner
August 1997

The nonsegmental aspects of speech are: voice production, duration (long and short), intensity (loud and quiet), and pitch (high and low). Mastery of the nonsegmentals is essential if speech is to be understood by those who are not used to hearing deaf speech.

Voice Production
You can imitate the vocalization, which not only acknowledges it, but also models basic imitation skills essential to acquiring speech and language. You may also say , "I hear your voice." Encourage vocalizations while playing with toys, by making car, truck, and animal sounds.

Say up, up, up while a toy airplane is raised, and a long, drawn-out down while it comes down. More duration activities may include a long vocalization such as mmmmmm as a toy car is moved along, and short ba ba ba ba as a toy rabbit, or frog hops. You can also do whole body activities, making short vocalizations as you hop or jump, and a long, continuous vocalization as you walk or run.

Use a lion fingerpuppet, or a stuffed animal making a loud roar or a toy mouse fingerpuppet making a quiet squeak. Blow up a balloon as the child vocalizes.The balloon stays small with a quiet voice, and gets bigger as the vocalizations become louder.

This is the most difficult nonsegmental for profoundly deaf children to master. Use a toy helicopter, and model your voice with a low pitch, changing to high as your raise the helicopter in the air. Make a Halloween ghost, by tying a tissue around a cotton ball and putting two black dots for eyes. Then, say ooooooo changing pitch as it flies high and low.

These are just a few example of how to incorporate the nonsegmentals into your child's play activities. As you look around your house and go through your daily routines you will discover more ways. You can expand the concepts of duration, intensity and pitch through listening. When you hear something, label it , and then talk about it. If you heard a siren, was it loud or quiet, high or low, long or short? Not only can these activities be fun, they will prove invaluable later, as a firm foundation for functional, intelligible speech.


Sally Lonner received her Bachelors Degree from the University of Washington. She holds the following credentials: State of California Restricted Special Education Life Credential for K-12 Speech and Hearing Therapy and the California Community College Instructor Credential in Special Education. She has worked as a speech and language specialist in a total communication program for deaf and hard of hearing students for the last 22 years. Her students ranged from 18 months to 12 years of age. She has also worked at the John Tracy clinic in their deaf blind program and at a school for the physically handicapped. For the last 12 years she has taught sign language at a local community college. Sally has attended numerous workshops related to working with the deaf and hard of hearing, including a language workshop with Daniel Ling. She has also presented at the CALED (California Educators of the Deaf) conference.

Print this page