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Acoustical Meeting, Nov. 10-14, 2008 in Miami, Florida
Date:11/5/2008

around them. However, this is not the case for many people who lose the ability to speak after surgical removal of the larynx (laryngectomy) to treat advanced cancer. The electrolarynx (EL), a hand-held device that is used by approximately one half of these individuals after surgery provides speech that is mechanical and non-human sounding, can be hard to understand, and draws undesirable attention to the user -- all of which can limit communication and negatively impact quality of life.

Researchers at Harvard, MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital are working together to improve the sound quality of EL speech by creating an approach that can automatically add missing pitch variation to the speech. This is a significant advance because listeners rate EL speech that includes pitch variation to be significantly more natural/human sounding than regular (monotone) EL speech. The research team is now utilizing this new understanding to begin correcting other acoustic factors that contribute to the poor quality and reduced intelligibility of EL speech. Ultimately, they intend to collaborate with companies that make EL devices to implement their improvements in systems that will make real differences in the lives of laryngectomy patients. The capability for more natural/human-sounding (and ultimately more intelligible) EL speech will allow laryngectomy patients to communicate more effectively, giving them a new voice after cancer surgery and enhancing their quality of life.

This study has also furthered the basic understanding concerning which aspects of normal speech production contribute effectively to creating natural speech sounds -- an understanding that can be useful to researchers in speech science and in addressing other speech disorders.

The talk, "F0 control in electrolarynx speech" (3aSC8) by Yoko Saikachi, Kenneth Stevens, and Robert Hillman is at 11:15 a.m. on Wednesday, November 12.


3) UNDERWATER Wi-Fi


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Contact: Jason Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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