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Acoustic measure accuracy: Telepractice platforms (Weerathunge et al., 2021)

journal contribution
posted on 2021-06-22, 21:40 authored by Hasini R. Weerathunge, Roxanne K. Segina, Lauren Tracy, Cara E. Stepp
Purpose: Telepractice improves patient access to clinical care for voice disorders. Acoustic assessment has the potential to provide critical, objective information during telepractice, yet its validity via telepractice is currently unknown. The current study investigated the accuracy of acoustic measures of voice in a variety of telepractice platforms.
Method: Twenty-nine voice samples from individuals with dysphonia were transmitted over six video conferencing platforms (Zoom with and without enhancements, Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Teams,, and VSee Messenger). Standard time-, spectral-, and cepstral-based acoustic measures were calculated. The effect of transmission condition on each acoustic measure was assessed using repeated-measures analyses of variance. For those acoustic measures for which transmission condition was a significant factor, linear regression analysis was performed on the difference between the original recording and each telepractice platform, with the overall severity of dysphonia, Internet speed, and ambient noise from the transmitter as predictors.
Results: Transmission condition was a statistically significant factor for all acoustic measures except for mean fundamental frequency (fo). Ambient noise from the transmitter was a significant predictor of differences between platforms and the original recordings for all acoustic measures except fo measures. All telepractice platforms affected acoustic measures in a statistically significantly manner, although the effects of platforms varied by measure.
Conclusions: Overall, measures of fo were the least impacted by telepractice transmission. Microsoft Teams had the least and Zoom (with enhancements) had the most pronounced effects on acoustic measures. These results provide valuable insight into the relative validity of acoustic measures of voice when collected via telepractice.

Supplemental Material S1. Guidelines for recording from telepractice platforms in real-time via Praat Software.

Supplemental Material S2. Directions for turning off the computer audio gain control for microphone and speaker.

Supplemental Material S3. Mean differences of each acoustic measure between each telepractice platform and the original recording.

Weerathunge, H. R., Segina, R. K., Tracy, L., & Stepp, C. E. (2021). Accuracy of acoustic measures of voice via telepractice videoconferencing platforms. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication.


This research was supported by Grants R01 DC015570 (C. E. Stepp) and UL1 TR001430 (D. M. Center) from the National Institute of Health.