Recognition of Rapid Speech by Blind and Sighted Older Adults

Gordon-Salant, Sandra; Friedman, Sarah A.
April 2011
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Apr2011, Vol. 54 Issue 2, p622
Academic Journal
Purpose: To determine whether older blind participants recognize time-compressed speech better than older sighted participants. Method: Three 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. Results: Older 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. Conclusions: The 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.


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