Speech intelligibility in classroom when the speaker is dysphonic

Pasquale Bottalico, Silvia Murgia

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


School children need clear auditory signals and low background noise to learn. When classroom acoustics are poor, teachers often compensate by raising their voices, usually with limited effect against background noise, and, long-term, this makes vocal overuse the primary cause (60%) of the high prevalence of voice problems in teachers. Speech intelligibility tests were performed in primary schools with normal hearing students using words produced by an actor with normal voice quality and simulating a dysphonic voice. The speech was played by a Head and Torso Simulator. Artificial classroom noise and classrooms with different reverberation times were used to obtain a range of Speech Transmission Index from 0.2 to 0.7 (from bad to good). Results showed a statistically significant decrease in intelligibility when the speaker was dysphonic with a maximum of 15% intelligibility loss. This study extends an important pairing of problems related to student learning: classroom acoustics and teachers with voice disorders. It provides important insights into the enormous variability in speech intelligibility in classrooms by characterizing students' intelligibility when students receive degraded auditory input. The degraded auditory input results from the intersection of classroom acoustics and poor teacher voice quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the International Congress on Acoustics
StatePublished - 2022
Event24th International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2022 - Gyeongju, Korea, Republic of
Duration: Oct 24 2022Oct 28 2022


  • Classroom acoustics
  • Speech intelligibility
  • Voice quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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