Recognition of Rapid Speech by Blind and Sighted Older Adults PurposeTo determine whether older blind participants recognize time-compressed speech better than older sighted participants.MethodThree groups of adults with normal hearing participated (n = 10/group): (a) older sighted, (b) older blind, and (c) younger sighted listeners. Low-predictability sentences that were uncompressed (0% time compression ratio [TCR]) and compressed at 3 rates ... Article
Article  |   April 01, 2011
Recognition of Rapid Speech by Blind and Sighted Older Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sandra Gordon-Salant
    University of Maryland, College Park
    University of Maryland, College Park
  • Sarah A. Friedman
    University of Maryland, College Park
    University of Maryland, College Park
  • Correspondence to Sandra Gordon-Salant: ssalant@umd.edu
  • Editor: Robert Schlauch
    Editor: Robert Schlauch×
  • Associate Editor: Kathryn Arehart
    Associate Editor: Kathryn Arehart×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing
Article   |   April 01, 2011
Recognition of Rapid Speech by Blind and Sighted Older Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2011, Vol. 54, 622-631. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/10-0052)
History: Received February 22, 2010 , Accepted July 5, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2011, Vol. 54, 622-631. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/10-0052)
History: Received February 22, 2010; Accepted July 5, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 7

PurposeTo determine whether older blind participants recognize time-compressed speech better than older sighted participants.

MethodThree groups of adults with normal hearing participated (n = 10/group): (a) older sighted, (b) older blind, and (c) younger sighted listeners. Low-predictability sentences that were uncompressed (0% time compression ratio [TCR]) and compressed at 3 rates (40%, 50%, and 60% TCR) were presented to listeners in quiet and noise.

ResultsOlder blind listeners recognized all time-compressed speech stimuli significantly better than did older sighted listeners in quiet. In noise, the older blind adults recognized the uncompressed and 40% TCR speech stimuli better than did the older sighted adults. Performance differences between the younger sighted adults and older blind adults were not observed.

ConclusionsThe findings support the notion that older blind adults recognize time-compressed speech considerably better than older sighted adults in quiet and noise. Their performance levels are similar to those of younger adults, suggesting that age-related difficulty in understanding time-compressed speech is not an inevitable consequence of aging. Instead, frequent listening to speech at rapid rates, which was highly correlated with performance of the older blind adults, may be a useful technique to minimize age-related slowing in speech understanding.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported in part by Method to Extend Research in Time Award R37AG09191 from the National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) Training Grant DC 00046, and NIDCD Core Center Grant P30DC004664. We gratefully acknowledge Edward Smith for developing the MATLAB scoring tool used in this experiment and Gregory R. Hancock for his assistance with the statistical analyses. Finally, we extend our sincere appreciation to the many individuals who participated in the experiment, especially the older blind adults who traveled—sometimes considerable distances—to participate.
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