Comparison of Speech Perception in Background Noise With Acceptance of Background Noise in Aided and Unaided Conditions Background noise is a significant factor influencing hearing-aid satisfaction and is a major reason for rejection of hearing aids. Attempts have been made by previous researchers to relate the use of hearing aids to speech perception in noise (SPIN), with an expectation of improved speech perception followed by an increased ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2004
Comparison of Speech Perception in Background Noise With Acceptance of Background Noise in Aided and Unaided Conditions
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Anna K. Nabelek
    The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Joanna W. Tampas
    The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Samuel B. Burchfield
    The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: anabelek@utk.edu
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2004
Comparison of Speech Perception in Background Noise With Acceptance of Background Noise in Aided and Unaided Conditions
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2004, Vol. 47, 1001-1011. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/074)
History: Received June 13, 2003 , Accepted March 9, 2004
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2004, Vol. 47, 1001-1011. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/074)
History: Received June 13, 2003; Accepted March 9, 2004
Web of Science® Times Cited: 59

Background noise is a significant factor influencing hearing-aid satisfaction and is a major reason for rejection of hearing aids. Attempts have been made by previous researchers to relate the use of hearing aids to speech perception in noise (SPIN), with an expectation of improved speech perception followed by an increased acceptance of hearing aids. Unfortunately, SPIN was not related to hearing-aid use or satisfaction. A new measure of listener reaction to background noise has been proposed. The acceptable noise level (ANL), expressed in decibels, is defined as a difference between the most comfortable listening level for speech and the highest background noise level that is acceptable when listening to and following a story. The ANL measure assumes that speech understanding in noise may not be as important as is the willingness to listen in the presence of noise. It has been established that people who accept background noise have smaller ANLs and tend to be "good" users of hearing aids. Conversely, people who cannot accept background noise have larger ANLs and may only use hearing aids occasionally or reject them altogether. Because this is a new measure, it was important to determine the reliability of the ANL over time with and without hearing aids, to determine the effect of acclimatization to hearing aids, and to compare the ANL to well-established measures such as speech perception scores collected with the SPIN test. Results from 50 listeners indicate that for both good and occasional hearing aid users, the ANL is comparable in reliability to the SPIN test and that both measures do not change with acclimatization. The ANLs and SPIN scores are unrelated. Although the SPIN scores improve with amplification, the ANLs are unaffected by amplification, suggesting that the ANL is inherent to an individual and can be established prior to hearing aid fitting as a possible predictor of hearing-aid use.

KEY WORDS: background noise, hearing aids, acceptable noise level, speech perception in noise

Acknowledgments
This research was supported, in part, by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 DC 05018. We thank Melinda Freyaldenhoven for her help in collecting some of the data, and the University of Tennessee Hearing and Speech Clinic for their help in acquiring listeners.
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