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Effects of visible versus concealed alphabet cues on speech intelligibility in dysarthria

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Nick Miller


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Aims: Alphabet cues are often applied to improve communication with people with speech impairment. Uncertainty remains regarding which factors associated with the individual participant applying the technique (e.g. type and severity of dysarthria) or with the technique itself (e.g. visual letter information or altered speech output) impact on outcome. This study examined intelligibility of dysarthric speech with and without visible and concealed cues, and investigated the effects of word frequency, length and complexity on word recognition. Methods: Twenty-two listeners transcribed words (n=120) of varying length (monosyllabic n=66, disyllabic n=54) and varying complexity (simple onset n=60, complex onset n=60) from an audiorecording of an adult with severe dysarthria associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Words were spoken with habitual speech, and with simultaneous pointing to the initial letter on an alphabet board (cueing). Intelligibility was tested in three listening conditions: habitual speech (with no cues), cued speech with alphabet cues visible to listeners and cued speech without alphabet cues visible to listeners. Findings: In total, 46.6% of all the 120 words were correctly identified. Considering all items, visible cues increased intelligibility while concealed cues decreased intelligibility compared to the no cues condition. When examining word subsets, 30% of items with complex onsets and 38% of two-syllable items were correctly recognized. Higher word frequency facilitated recognition. Conclusions: Visible cues significantly improved intelligibility however, not all words were equally facilitated. The possible issues around the implementation of cues associated with some neurological aetiologies are highlighted.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kentner J , Miller N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation

Year: 2009

Volume: 16

Issue: 5

Pages: 272-279

ISSN (print): 1741-1645

ISSN (electronic): 1759-779X

Publisher: Mark Allen Publishing Ltd.