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J Speech Hear Res. 1996 Jun;39(3):494-509.

Speaking clearly for the hard of hearing IV: Further studies of the role of speaking rate.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA.


The contribution of reduced speaking rate to the intelligibility of "clear" speech (Picheny, Durlach, & Braida, 1985) was evaluated by adjusting the durations of speech segments (a) via nonuniform signal time-scaling, (b) by deleting and inserting pauses, and (c) by eliciting materials from a professional speaker at a wide range of speaking rates. Key words in clearly spoken nonsense sentences were substantially more intelligible than those spoken conversationally (15 points) when presented in quiet for listeners with sensorineural impairments and when presented in a noise background to listeners with normal hearing. Repeated presentation of conversational materials also improved scores (6 points). However, degradations introduced by segment-by-segment time-scaling rendered this time-scaling technique problematic as a means of converting speaking styles. Scores for key words excised from these materials and presented in isolation generally exhibited the same trends as in sentence contexts. Manipulation of pause structure reduced scores both when additional pauses were introduced into conversational sentences and when pauses were deleted from clear sentences. Key-word scores for materials produced by a professional talker were inversely correlated with speaking rate, but conversational rate scores did not approach those of clear speech for other talkers. In all experiments, listeners with normal hearing exposed to flat-spectrum background noise performed similarly to listeners with hearing loss.

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