Cultural Competency in Voice Evaluation: Considerations of Normative Standards for Sociolinguistically Diverse Voices

Published:October 12, 2020DOI:



      Significant differences exist in anatomical, acoustic, and aerodynamic parameters for nonspeech tasks between culturally and linguistically diverse sample populations. There is a need for expansion of the normative acoustic data to include sociolinguistically diverse groups to ensure that clinical objective measurements are accurately classifying the voice quality of all individuals. This study examined objective measures of voice quality assessment of monolingual speakers of Standard American English (SAE) with sequential bilingual, native (L1) French and Spanish speakers on perturbation, noise, spectral/cepstral analyses, and compared ratings on auditory-perceptual assessment with acoustic data secondary to degree of accentedness.


      Thirty speakers with normal voice quality were rated on the Consensus Auditory-Perceptual Evaluation of Voice scale. Voice quality measures were analyzed using the Multi-Dimensional Voice Program and Analysis of Dysphonia in Speech and Voice. A measure of accentedness of SAE was calculated using an informal task by two evaluators.


      Objective acoustic measures of jitter and all-voiced cepstral peak prominence were statistically significant between SAE speakers and L1 Spanish and French speakers. SAE speakers demonstrated significantly higher group mean cepstral peak prominence for the all-voiced sentence (“We were away a year ago.”) than native French and Spanish speakers. There were no significant differences in perception of voice quality and acoustic measures secondary to degree of accentedness of the non-native SAE speakers.


      It is important to engage and strengthen voice diagnostic measures to support culturally competent service delivery for the diversifying clinical population. Normative databases established on SAE speakers should reflect the statistically significant differences evidenced between diverse sociolinguistic populations in anatomical, auditory-perceptual, aerodynamic, and acoustical parameters.

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