Hoarse-voiced speakers need different acoustic environments

Vincent Lara-Cinisomo
Searam Park

Speaking more loudly is not the cure-all for some people.

According to a research project by Speech and Hearing science undergraduate senior Searam Park, people with chronically hoarse speaking voices need a different acoustic environment to be optimally intelligible than those with normal speech.

The project, titled, “Effect of Dysphonic Speech on Identifiability of Vowels,” was presented by Park at the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois from Feb. 7-9.

The study, undertaken under the supervision of SHS assistant professors Dr. Keiko Ishikawa and Pasquale Bottalico, examined how dysphonia (i.e., chronic hoarseness) affects listeners’ ability to understand speech in a noisy environment.

Park is a research assistant in Dr. Ishikawa’s Voice and Speech Rehabilitation Research Lab. Dr. Ishikawa is the primary investigator on the study.

The study was conducted in a classroom to replicate a real-life listening environment that speakers with dysphonia face. What Park, Ishikawa and Bottalico found was that the vowels in dysphonic speech were less intelligible than vowels in normal speech, and increasing loudness of speech improved intelligibility of normal speech but not of dysphonic speech.

This finding suggests that the acoustic environment optimal for individuals with normal voice is not sufficient for individuals with dysphonic voice.