What is it about?

Both hearing and seeing a talker can improve speech understanding, a phenomenon called the "audiovisual benefit." Cochlear-implant users show large audiovisual benefits with native language speakers. We wondered if these benefits would be reduced with a non-native language speaker, since accented speech can change both auditory and visual information (for example, changing how words sound and appear on the lips). We found that cochlear-implant users can still successfully attain audiovisual benefits, even with Spanish-accented speech. Older cochlear-implant users found visual cues to be particularly helpful.

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Why is it important?

We live in a multicultural society, and interact with people who use accented speech frequently. This is an important population to consider when thinking about communication outcomes in people with cochlear implants. Furthermore, our results show that it is particularly important for older cochlear-implant users to see the lips/faces of talkers.

Perspectives

This was an exciting project by a Maryland Summer Scholars undergraduate student who went on to complete an honors thesis and earn her masters degree in speech pathology. Future work in this area could study how different accents, besides Spanish, might impact audiovisual benefits in cochlear-implant users.

Dr. Brittany N. Jaekel
University of Maryland at College Park

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Recognition of Accented Speech by Cochlear-Implant Listeners, Ear & Hearing, January 2020, Wolters Kluwer Health, DOI: 10.1097/aud.0000000000000842.
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