A Longitudinal Case Study of ALS: Effects of Listener Familiarity and Proficiency on Intelligibility Judgments This study describes the effects of listener proficiency and familiarization on judgments of speech intelligibility and speech severity associated with a progressive dysarthria. Speech performance was followed longitudinally for 39 months postdiagnosis for a man with ALS. The subject’s spouse served as a highly familiar listener whose speech severity and ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2000
A Longitudinal Case Study of ALS: Effects of Listener Familiarity and Proficiency on Intelligibility Judgments
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Roxanne DePaul
    University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Raymond D. Kent
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Contact author: Roxanne DePaul, PhD, University of Wisconsin— Whitewater, Department of Communicative Disorders, 1018 Roseman, Whitewater, WI 53190. Email: depaulr@mail.uww.edu
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2000
A Longitudinal Case Study of ALS: Effects of Listener Familiarity and Proficiency on Intelligibility Judgments
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2000, Vol. 9, 230-240. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0903.230
History: Received May 22, 2000 , Accepted June 14, 2000
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2000, Vol. 9, 230-240. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0903.230
History: Received May 22, 2000; Accepted June 14, 2000

This study describes the effects of listener proficiency and familiarization on judgments of speech intelligibility and speech severity associated with a progressive dysarthria. Speech performance was followed longitudinally for 39 months postdiagnosis for a man with ALS. The subject’s spouse served as a highly familiar listener whose speech severity and intelligibility judgments were compared to those of 24 unfamiliar listener-judges. The expected superior ratings of the spouse over the unfamiliar listeners became especially evident at 20 months postdiagnosis when the speech disorder was moderately severe. That is, the advantage of familiarity evolved over time and reached its maximum when the speech impairment was marked. Results for the unfamiliar listener group illustrated that differences among judges represented large individual variations in listener proficiency. These results have clinical significance in that they suggest the use of a practice standard for progressive dysarthria that includes speech intelligibility measures, listener proficiency indices, and familiarization training.

Acknowledgments
The authors wish to acknowledge Jean Schumacher and Toni Wickler, for their contribution to data analysis on an earlier version of this work, and Sarah Stuntebeck, for her assistance with data analysis on this paper. This study was supported in part by NIH research grants SR29DC00921-05 and 5 R01 DC00319 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders (NIDCD-NIH).
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