How Does a Face Mask Impact Speech Perception?

Il Joon Moon, Mini Jo, Ga Young Kim, Nicolas Kim, Young Sang Cho, Sung Hwa Hong, Hye Yoon Seol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Face masks are mandatory during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to attenuation of sound energy and loss of visual cues which are important for communication. This study explores how a face mask affects speech performance for individuals with and without hearing loss. Four video recordings (a female speaker with and without a face mask and a male speaker with and without a face mask) were used to examine individuals’ speech performance. The participants completed a listen-and-repeat task while watching four types of video recordings. Acoustic characteristics of speech signals based on mask type (no mask, surgical, and N95) were also examined. The availability of visual cues was beneficial for speech understanding—both groups showed significant improvements in speech perception when they were able to see the speaker without the mask. However, when the speakers were wearing the mask, no statistical significance was observed between no visual cues and visual cues conditions. Findings of the study demonstrate that provision of visual cues is beneficial for speech perception for individuals with normal hearing and hearing impairment. This study adds value to the importance of the use of communication strategies during the pandemic where visual information is lost due to the face mask.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1709
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Volume10
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • hearing loss
  • mask
  • speech perception

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