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Speech perception, acoustics, and children (Iglehart, 2019)

posted on 2019-12-14, 01:15 authored by Frank Iglehart
Purpose: The classroom acoustic standard ANSI/ASA S12.60-2010/Part 1 requires a reverberation time (RT) for children with hearing impairment of 0.3 s, shorter than its requirement of 0.6 s for children with typical hearing. While preliminary data from conference proceedings support this new RT requirement of 0.3 s, peer-reviewed data that support 0.3-s RT are not available on those wearing hearing aids. To help address this, this article compares speech perception performance by children with hearing aids in RTs, including those specified in the ANSI/ASA-2010 standard. A related clinical issue is whether assessments of speech perception conducted in near-anechoic sound booths, which may overestimate performance in reverberant classrooms, may now provide a more reliable estimate when the child is in a classroom with a short RT of 0.3 s. To address this, this study compared speech perception by children with hearing aids in a sound booth to listening in 0.3-s RT.
Method: Participants listened in classroom RTs of 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9 s and in a near-anechoic sound booth. All conditions also included a 21-dB range of speech-to-noise ratios (SNRs) to further represent classroom listening environments. Performance measures using the Bamford–Kowal–Bench Speech-in-Noise (BKB-SIN) test were 50% correct word recognition across these acoustic conditions, with supplementary analyses of percent correct.
Results: Each reduction in RT from 0.9 to 0.6 to 0.3 s significantly benefited the children’s perception of speech. Scores obtained in a sound booth were significantly better than those measured in 0.3-s RT.
Conclusion: These results support the acoustic standard of 0.3-s RT for children with hearing impairment in learning spaces ≤ 283 m3, as specified in ANSI/ASA S12.60-2010/Part 1. Additionally, speech perception testing in a sound booth did not predict accurately listening ability in a classroom with 0.3-s RT.

Supplemental Material S1. Reverberation times for each classroom condition.

Supplemental Material S2. Speech perception scores (% correct) for each listening condition.

Iglehart, F. (2019). Speech perception in classroom acoustics by children with hearing loss and wearing hearing aids. American Journal of Audiology. Advance online publication.


This research was supported by National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Grant H133G060116 and grants from the Gustuvus and Louise Pfeiffer Research Foundation, awarded to Frank Iglehart.