Pure tone and speech audiometry go hand in hand and are a vital combination in hearing health assessment and management. Speech audiometry is used to assess a patient’s sensitivity to speech as well as clarity to speech heard. Used in conjunction with pure-tone audiometry, speech testing is integral in quantifying benefit from amplification and in determining audiological management decisions (i.e. consideration of alternative hearing amplification devices)...
So why is testing speech intelligibility so important? Speech is how the majority of the population communicate. Children rely on verbal communication in order to understand, learn and develop verbal language and as they get older, speech is a vital part of social participation, holding down a job and general quality of life.
Which tests are usually included in a speech test battery?
Threshold Speech Tests
SRT is used to cross-check the accuracy of pure tone thresholds. They are also used to determine the appropriate presentation level for suprathreshold testing.
Speech Recognition Threshold (SRT), also referred to as speech reception threshold, is a measure of the lowest dB HL that a person can correctly identify 50% of the time the spondee presented.
Suprathreshold Speech Tests
These determine how accurately the listener is able to determine speech at a specific level, as well as the percentage of speech recognition the patient can obtain. Perhaps most vitally, especially in the case of sensorineural hearing loss, these tests determine whether the client will benefit from amplification.
Word Recognition (WR)WR assess how well a person can understand speech at a specific level (when speech is loud enough), in a quiet environment.
Speech in noise
This measures the ability of a person to understand speech in a noisy environment/ background.
What is the best way to administer speech tests?
A speech audiology test can be administered via either Monitored Lived Voice testing (MLV) or recorded speech tests.
In Monitored Live Voice testing (MLV) clinicians present word lists through a microphone. The microphone is connected to a VU (Volume Unit) meter which monitors the voice intensity level.
In recorded speech tests, speech materials are recorded in an acoustically controlled environment, professionally mastered, and presented via a CD-player or PC that is connected to the audiometer.
So, which is better for your patient, you and your practice?
The choice is simple!
MLV has always seemed to be the method of choice for reasons like it is easy to administer and allows greater flexibility of the test procedure, and that the average presentation time of MLV is shorter. All these factors are now obsolete thanks to the KUDUwave, which makes integration of recorded speech materials into your practice pretty seamless.
So, what’s in it for you and your practice?
At the end of the day, we are all in business to provide the best care for the patients we serve. So, how do we quantify best care? Best care means that we provide testing that is RELIABLE, VALID and allows for as little VARIABILITY as possible.
Using recorded speech means that clinicians can reliably repeat tests, ensuring that their results are valid and that they are able to eliminate as much variability as possible.
Save Time and your Voice!
MLV has always been punted because its administration is shorter than recorded list. The recorded speech materials embedded in the KUDUwave are easily accessible and easy to use. They have all been pre-calibrated, ensuring the VU meter peaks appropriately each time, this means you no longer have to calibrate the VU meter, allowing you to start the test much faster.
The KUDUwave’s auto-scoring, eliminates any scorer errors and saves time by being automated.
MLV lacks precise control over the administrators voice intensity. Voice frequencies and pronunciations vary from tester to tester and can yield large differences in results even with the same test materials and the same patient.
Vocal fatigue also increases the probability of variations in tones, accents and speaker error, resulting in inaccurate speech test results.
Not your Mother Tongue? No Problem
MLV is great if you are fluent in more than just your Mother Tongue. If you are not, and this is likely to apply to the majority of clinicians, you cannot reliably test a patient if you are not fluent in that language.
The KUDUwave includes recorded speech materials in various languages.
Say Goodbye to Office Clutter
The KUDUwave is not punted as a “single device to run your practice” for nothing! Say goodbye to paper copies of speech testing word lists, outdated, obsolete machines and CD players.
Since the recorded speech words are presented on the screen, the clinician can easily monitor the test process, and as they are not reading the words, they decrease the potential for lip-reading and eliminate the need to hold a piece of paper in front of their mouth.
A clean, clutter-free office will go a long way to making you look more professional.
While the need for using standardised test material is well understood, there is the perception that recorded speech testing is time consuming, inflexible and expensive and not easily integrated into a practice. This could not be further from the truth.
The KUDUwave has shown that making use of pre recorded word lists for speech testing ensures that not only your speech audiology testing, but your entire practice will be positioned where it should – in the digital age and not lagging behind in the dark ages.