Effect of Dysphonia and Cognitive-Perceptual Listener Strategies on Speech Intelligibility


      There is a high prevalence of dysphonia among professional voice users and the impact of the disordered voice on the speaker is well documented. However, there is minimal research on the impact of the disordered voice on the listener. Considering that professional voice users include teachers and air-traffic controllers, among others, it is imperative to determine the impact of a disordered voice on the listener. To address this, the objectives of the current study included: (1) determine whether there are differences in speech intelligibility between individuals with healthy voices and those with dysphonia; (2) understand whether cognitive-perceptual strategies increase speech intelligibility for dysphonic speakers; and (3) determine the relationship between subjective voice quality ratings and speech intelligibility. Sentence stimuli were recorded from 12 speakers with dysphonia and four age- and gender-matched typical, healthy speakers and presented to 129 healthy listeners divided into one of three strategy groups (ie, control, acknowledgement, and listener strategies). Four expert raters also completed a perceptual voice assessment using the Consensus Assessment Perceptual Evaluation of Voice for each speaker. Results indicated that dysphonic voices were significantly less intelligible than healthy voices (P0.001) and the use of cognitive-perceptual strategies provided to the listener did not significantly improve speech intelligibility scores (P = 0.602). Using the subjective voice quality ratings, regression analysis found that breathiness was able to predict 41% of the variance associated with number of errors (P = 0.008). Overall results of the study suggest that speakers with dysphonia demonstrate reduced speech intelligibility and that providing the listener with specific strategies may not result in improved intelligibility.

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