The effects of telepractice technology on dysarthric speech evaluation

Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Summary/Abstract
With telepractice becoming an increasingly popular, indeed necessary, alternative to clinic visits, speechlanguage pathologists (SLPs) evaluate speech that is audio captured and transmitted remotely via a
teleconferencing solutions (e.g. Zoom). All popular teleconferencing applications use speech compression
algorithms based on linear predictive coding (LPC) to reduce bandwidth required for speech transmission. LPC
compression algorithms decompose speech into phonatory source and articulatory filter parameters, which are
then independently vector quantized and temporally smoothed based on schemes that have been developed
and optimized for compressing speech sampled from the general population. In this way, speech is transmitted
with the least number of audible artifacts and the highest level of intelligibility for the given internet connection
Because LPC algorithms are optimized using large corpora of typical speech, they are fundamentally
not well-suited for faithfully transmitting the amount of distortion or noise commonly present in the dysarthric
speech signal, and articulation and voice features are particularly vulnerable to corruption. In this proposal the
aim is to systematically characterize the impact of speech compression algorithms commonly used in
telepractice platforms on speech intelligibility, perceptual evaluation, and acoustic measurement. This is done
via two aims:
SA1: Evaluate the effects of teleconferencing speech compression algorithms at three internet
bandwidth levels on the perceptual and acoustic assessment of dysarthric speech
Existing high-fidelity audio recordings of words and sentences, and sustained phonations from 20 speakers
with various dysarthrias will be encoded at three compression rates to simulate low-, moderate-, and highbandwidth internet connectivity. Twenty experienced SLPs will transcribe the samples to attain intelligibility
measures for the original and encoded words and sentences; and perceptually rate vocal quality on sustained
phonations. Acoustic measures of articulation and voice will be extracted. Within-subject statistical models will
evaluate impact of bandwidth condition on perceptual and acoustic outcomes within speech tasks.
SA2: Compare outcomes for dysarthric speech recorded in a telepractice session (compressed) versus
that recorded simultaneously in-person via smartphone application (uncompressed).
Fifteen speakers with dysarthria will participate in simulated telepractice speech assessments administered by
SLPs. Subsequently, recordings from the session (compressed) and simultaneously recorded in-person
samples (uncompressed) will be scored by unfamiliar SLPs. Acoustic metrics will be extracted from all
samples. Within-subject statistical models will evaluate differences for the sample.
The results of these studies will provide the first tranche of evidence to inform the limits of telepractice for
dysarthria evaluation.
Effective start/end date6/1/215/31/23


  • HHS: National Institutes of Health (NIH): $230,130.00


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