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Smart speaker devices can improve speech intelligibility in adults with intellectual disability

Smith, Elizabeth ORCID:, Sumner, Petroc ORCID:, Hedge, Craig ORCID: and Powell, Georgina ORCID: 2021. Smart speaker devices can improve speech intelligibility in adults with intellectual disability. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 56 (3) , pp. 583-593. 10.1111/1460-6984.12615

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Background Successful communication is vital to quality of life. One group commonly facing speech and communication difficulties is individuals with intellectual disability (ID). A novel route to encourage clear speech is offered by mainstream smart speakers (e.g., Amazon Alexa and Google Home). Smart speakers offer four factors important for learning: reward immediacy, spaced practice, autonomy/intrinsic motivation and reduced social barriers. Yet the potential of smart speakers to improve speech intelligibility has not been explored before. Aims To determine whether providing individuals with intellectual disabilities with smart speaker devices improved ratings of speech intelligibility for (1) phrases related to device use and (2) unrelated words via a semi‐randomized controlled trial. Methods & Procedures In a semi‐randomized controlled trial, an intervention group of adults with ID (N = 21) received smart speakers, while a control group (N = 22) did not. Before and after about 12 weeks, participants were recorded saying smart speaker‐related phrases and unrelated words. Naïve participants then rated the intelligibility of the speech recordings. Outcomes & Results The group that received smart speakers made significantly larger intelligibility gains than the control group. Although the effect size was modest, this difference was found for both smart speaker‐related phrases and unrelated words. Conclusions & Implications While the mechanism of action remains to be determined, the presence of smart speakers in the home had a demonstrable impact on ratings of speech intelligibility, and could provide cost‐effective inclusive support for speech and communication improvement, improving the quality of life of vulnerable populations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Publisher: Informa Healthcare / Wiley
ISSN: 1368-2822
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 February 2021
Date of Acceptance: 22 February 2021
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 08:30

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