Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jean C. Krause, Ph.D.


Speech intelligibility, Speaking rates, Talker variability, Benefit size, Intelligibility benefit, Study comparisons


Clear speech is a form of communication that talkers naturally use when speaking in difficult listening conditions or with a person who has a hearing loss. Clear speech, on average, provides listeners with hearing impairments an intelligibility benefit of 17 percentage points (Picheny, Durlach, & Braida, 1985) over conversational speech. In addition, it provides increased intelligibility in various listening conditions (Krause & Braida, 2003, among others), with different stimuli (Bradlow & Bent, 2002; Gagne, Rochette, & Charest, 2002; Helfer, 1997, among others) and across listener populations (Bradlow, Kraus, & Hayes, 2003, among others). Recently, researchers have attempted to compare their findings with clear and conversational speech, at slow and normal rates, with results from other investigators' studies in an effort to determine the relative benefits of clear speech across populations and environments.

However, relative intelligibility benefits are difficult to determine unless baseline performance levels can be equated, suggesting that listener psychometric functions with clear speech are needed. The purpose of this study was to determine how speech intelligibility, as measured by percentage key words correct in nonsense sentences by young adults, varies with changes in speaking condition, talker and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Forty young, normal hearing adults were presented with grammatically correct nonsense sentences at five SNRs. Each listener heard a total of 800 sentences in four speaking conditions: clear and conversational styles, at slow and normal rates (i.e., clear/slow, clear/normal, conversational/slow, and conversational/normal). Overall results indicate clear/slow and conversational/slow were the most intelligible conditions, followed by clear/normal and then conversational/normal conditions.

Moreover, the average intelligibility benefit for clear/slow, clear/normal and conversational/slow conditions (relative to conversational/normal) was maintained across an SNR range of -4 to 0 dB in the middle, or linear, portion of the psychometric function. However, when results are examined by talker, differences are observed in the benefit provided by each condition and in how the benefit varies across noise levels. In order to counteract talker variability, research with a larger number of talkers is recommended for future studies.