My research is focused on talker factors that affect listeners’ speech understanding as well as their perception of talker characteristics. Examples of talker factors include speaking style (especially clear speech, which talkers adopt when talking to someone with hearing loss), foreign accent, and dialect. Lab activities include acoustic analyses of speech as well as perceptual experiments in which listeners either identify what a talker said or make judgments about the talker’s age or gender.
The degree to which speech communication is successful is affected by many variables. These include listener characteristics like hearing loss, environment characteristics like background noise, and message factors like linguistic complexity. Talker factors also play an important role. Talker behaviors, like speaking more clearly, can help improve speech understanding, while certain talker characteristics, like being a non-native speaker of the target language, can make speech understanding more difficult for the listener. My research focuses on these talker factors and how they affect the everyday speech understanding abilities of older adults with hearing loss. Methods include both perceptual and acoustic analyses. My goal is to identify the acoustic characteristics that underlie speech understanding so that beneficial acoustic properties can be exploited and harmful ones can be ameliorated through signal processing or by training talkers to produce more intelligible speech.