A new study has looked at whether there is a difference in speech intelligibility in healthy voices compared to those who suffer from a voice disorder such as hoarseness. For many professions, their voice is an essential communicating tool – indeed, for some professionals such as air traffic controllers, it’s imperative that listeners can understand exactly what they are communicating.
Voice disorders are a very common condition and we know the impact it has on the speaker, but now researchers from Florida Atlantic University and Towson University have looked at how they affect the listener. In particular, how the listener’s overall impression of a person’s speech or the health of their voice would impact how they rate speech intelligibility ie the ability of a listener to recover a speaker’s message.
Results of the study, published in the Journal of Voice, show that speakers with voice disorders demonstrated a marked increase in the number of speech intelligibility errors compared to speakers with healthy voices. In terms of voice disorders, speakers that had a ‘breathiness’ quality to their voice, ranging from moderate to severe, had the greatest number of speech intelligibility errors.