Perceptual equivalence of test lists in a monosyllabic speech test with different hearing thresholds
EN ISO 8253-3 (2012) describes the requirements and validation of speech material for speech audiometry. Although speech tests are typically applied to listeners with hearing impairment, the validation is conducted with listeners with normal hearing abilities. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of hearing thresholds on the validation results. Since hearing thresholds of listeners with hearing impairment show a large variability, groups of participants with normal hearing listened to the Freiburg monosyllabic speech test (Hahlbrock, 1953) preprocessed with two simulated homogenous hearing losses, as well as to the original speech material. Discrimination functions were fitted to the results and speech levels for speech recognition scores of 50% were determined. According to EN ISO 8253-3 (2012), the perceptual balance of the lists is given when the confidence interval of the speech levels is within 1 dB from the median across all lists. This criterion is not fulfilled for several test lists, which partly differed for the hearing-loss configurations. When taking the measurement accuracy of the experiment into account, consistent deviations are observed in four test lists. The results suggest that if perceptual balance is fulfilled for participants with normal hearing, this might not be valid for participants with hearing impairment. Predictions of speech recognition using the Speech Intelligibility Index could not replicate test list differences.
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