The effects of face masks on speech-in-speech recognition for children and adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: This study explored the effects of different face masks on school-age children’s and young adults’ word recognition. Design: Speech recognition thresholds were measured adaptively in a two-talker speech masker using a closed-set picture pointing task. Target words were recorded by a female talker in five conditions: no mask, transparent mask, face shield, N95 mask and surgical mask. Study samples: Thirty children (8–12 years) and 25 adults (18–25 years) with normal hearing. Results: Both children’s and adults’ word recognition was most negatively impacted by the face shield. Children’s recognition was also impaired by the transparent mask. No negative effects were observed for the N95 or surgical mask for either age group. Conclusion: School-age children, like young adults, are negatively affected by face masks when recognising speech in a two-talker speech masker, but the effects depend on the type of face mask being worn. Acoustic analyses suggest that the reflective materials used for masks impact speech signal quality and impair word recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • children
  • Covid-19
  • face masks
  • speech-in-speech
  • Word recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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