Ben je een student (16+) met een cochleair implantaat? Doe mee aan een interview, contacteer Claudia: >> meer infohier. (Translation: Are you a student (16+) with a cochlear implant? Participate in an interview, contact Claudia:

Resarching Soundscapes & Aural Diversity

Every person hears their world a bit differently (we also call this "aural diversity"). This only becomes a problem - or a disadvantage - when your hearing does not match the demands of day-to-day environments. So - being a deaf minority in a hearing society often means having to deal with the barriers of a world designed for the "typically hearing": Missing out on parts of conversations, feeling unsafe in new places... and spending a lot of energy on trying to take part in daily life nonetheless.

This project hones in on the lived experiences of D/deaf adolescents and young adults who use cochlear implants (CIs) - a type of neural prosthesis that helps hearing speech. CI technology is quite advanced and many young CI-users successfully attend mainstream schools while using spoken language. BUT using CIs does not exactly mean that the deafness is "removed" (and that - from person to person - may not even be desirable).

Why CI-hearing is not quite like typical, acoustic hearing usually becomes clear in noisy settings or situations with multiple speakers. These limitations are significant in unstructured, social situations. Especially in adolescence and young adulthood communication barriers and not being able to participate fully in social life can be hard and isolating, affecting development and mental health.

To understand what can make unstructured, social environments (especially in schools) more CI-inclusive, this project includes:

  • Interviews
  • Go-along observations / walking interviews
  • Co-design & expert groups with CI users
  • Development of experimental settings for laboratory testing

To learn more about this project, you can contact Claudia.


To make sure that the project's values, goals and methods are aligned with what is actually meaningful and useful to CI-users, the project uses participatory approaches that involve CI-users as experts during different stages of projects. Furthermore, we can benefit from a close collaboration with the ENT department of Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), as well as experts from adjacent fields like disability studies, design & architecture.

People involved

Psychology, Leiden University - Claudia Libbi, Carolien Rieffe, Adva Eichengreen, Josine Buiskool, André Götze.

Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) - Johan H.M. Frijns, Chris H. Stronks. 

Architecture, TU Delft University - Alexander Koutamanis.

Interaction Technology & Co-Design, University of Twente - Robby van Delden

Related reads

Annual symposium on CI-users within INTENSE - read here!

Inclusive Schools for young d/Deaf CI users ESPCI 2023 - read here!


This project is funded via INTENSE, which is a multidisciplinary effort to research, improve and evaluate brain implants like CIs and their effect on the people who use them in their daily lives.