Accuracy of Repetition of Digitized and Synthesized Speech for Young Children in Background Noise Purpose The present study investigated the intelligibility of digitized and synthesized speech output in background noise for children 3–5 years old. The purpose of the study was to determine whether there was a difference in the intelligibility (ability to repeat) of 3 types of speech output (digitized, DECTalk synthesized, and ... Research Article
Research Article  |   May 01, 2006
Accuracy of Repetition of Digitized and Synthesized Speech for Young Children in Background Noise
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kathryn D. R. Drager
    The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  • Elizabeth A. Clark-Serpentine
    The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  • Kate E. Johnson
    The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  • Jennifer L. Roeser
    The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  • Contact author: Kathryn Drager, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Penn State University, 110 Moore Building, University Park, PA 16802. Email: kdd5@psu.edu
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Research Articles
Research Article   |   May 01, 2006
Accuracy of Repetition of Digitized and Synthesized Speech for Young Children in Background Noise
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2006, Vol. 15, 155-164. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2006/015)
History: Received November 17, 2004 , Revised May 17, 2005 , Accepted December 5, 2005
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2006, Vol. 15, 155-164. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2006/015)
History: Received November 17, 2004; Revised May 17, 2005; Accepted December 5, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 9

Purpose The present study investigated the intelligibility of digitized and synthesized speech output in background noise for children 3–5 years old. The purpose of the study was to determine whether there was a difference in the intelligibility (ability to repeat) of 3 types of speech output (digitized, DECTalk synthesized, and MacinTalk synthesized) in single words and sentences, presented within and out of context.

Method The dependent variable was speech intelligibility (number of individual words repeated correctly). The study used a mixed-model design. Ninety typically developing children (3–5 years old) were assigned to each of 3 speech type conditions. Participants were asked to repeat 20 words and 10 short sentences. Half of the stimuli were preceded by contextual information (topic cue), and half were presented without any context.

Results Young children have difficulty accurately repeating some digitized and synthesized messages in background noise. Overall, the older children (4- and 5-year-olds) performed better than the 3-year-old children. Increasing information through context or longer messages (i.e., sentences) did facilitate intelligibility overall, although there was a statistically significant Message Length × Context × Speech Type interaction.

Conclusions For 3–5-year-olds, the intelligibility of single words is very low (55%–77%). The intelligibility of sentences is higher, but the sole use of sentences for communication is problematic. Contextual information facilitates intelligibility and is a promising approach for ensuring effective communication. Future research is needed to improve the intelligibility of speech output at the single word level in order to maximize the benefits of speech output.

Acknowledgments
We are grateful to Erica Ende, Erica Harper, Maria Iapalucci, Katherine Rentschler, Rebecca Hartnett, and Christine Gagliano for their assistance with data collection. Portions of this article were presented at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, New Orleans, LA, November 2001; the biennial conference of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Odense, Denmark, August 2002; and the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Philadelphia, November 2004.
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