Evaluation of an Audiovisual-FM System: Investigating the Interaction Between Illumination Level and a Talker’s Skin Color on Speech-Reading Performance A program designed to evaluate the benefits of an audiovisual–frequency modulated (FM) system led to some questions concerning the effects of illumination level and a talker’s skin color on speech-reading performance. To address those issues, the speech of a Caucasian female was videotaped under 2 conditions: a light skin color ... Research Note
Research Note  |   June 01, 2006
Evaluation of an Audiovisual-FM System: Investigating the Interaction Between Illumination Level and a Talker’s Skin Color on Speech-Reading Performance
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jean-Pierre Gagné
    Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Ariane Laplante-Lévesque
    Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Maude Labelle
    Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Katrine Doucet
    Montreal Children’s Hospital
  • Marie-Christine Potvin
    Université de Montréal
  • Contact author: Jean-Pierre Gagné, école d’orthophonie et d’audiologie, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succursale centre-ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada. Email: Jean-Pierre.Gagne@umontreal.ca
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / School-Based Settings / Hearing / Research Note
Research Note   |   June 01, 2006
Evaluation of an Audiovisual-FM System: Investigating the Interaction Between Illumination Level and a Talker’s Skin Color on Speech-Reading Performance
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2006, Vol. 49, 628-635. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/045)
History: Received October 2, 2005 , Accepted October 3, 2005
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2006, Vol. 49, 628-635. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/045)
History: Received October 2, 2005; Accepted October 3, 2005

A program designed to evaluate the benefits of an audiovisual–frequency modulated (FM) system led to some questions concerning the effects of illumination level and a talker’s skin color on speech-reading performance. To address those issues, the speech of a Caucasian female was videotaped under 2 conditions: a light skin color condition and a dark skin color condition. For the latter condition, makeup was applied to the talker’s face. For both skin color conditions, the talker was recorded while speaking sentences under 7 different levels of illumination: 2, 3, 4, 16, 60, 256, and 600 footcandles (fc). Fifteen participants completed the speech perception task in a visual-only modality. The results revealed a significant interaction of illumination level and skin color. For the light skin color condition, speech-reading performance improved systematically as the illumination level increased from 3 to 16 fc. For the dark skin color condition, no differences in speech-reading performance were observed between the 2-fc and the 3-fc conditions. However, a large improvement in speech-reading performance was observed as the illumination level increased from 4 fc to 16 fc. It is speculated that in addition to an overall effect of illumination level, the contrast in luminance at the level of the talker’s face has an effect on speech-reading performance.

Acknowledgments
Portions of this manuscript were presented at the New Frontiers on the Amelioration of Hearing Loss conference, St. Louis, MO, March 22–25, 2001. This research project was supported in part by a research grant awarded to Jean-Pierre Gagné by the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada as well as a summer bursary granted by the Faculté de médecine de l'Université de Montréal. The bursary was awarded to Ariane Laplante-Lévesque, an undergraduate student.
We are very grateful to Norman P. Erber, who provided some valuable insights related to the interpretation of the present results as well as some comments and suggestions on drafts of the article. Also , the authors would like to thank Miguel Chagnon and Jean-François Angers from the Département de mathématiques et de statistiquesat the Université de Montréal for their valuable contribution in analyzing the results of the investigation. Further, the help provided by Guy Leblanc of the Direction générale des technologies de l'information et de la communication de l'Université de Montréal was very much appreciated. He gave us advice and lent us the equipment required to vary the level of illumination as well as the photometer that was used to measure the illumination levels.
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