Sixth ISCA Workshop on Speech Synthesis

Bonn, Germany
August 22-24, 2007

Making Speech Synthesis More Accessible to Older People

Maria Wolters (1), Pauline Campbell (2), Christine DePlacido (2), Amy Liddell (2), David Owens (2)

(1) Centre for Speech Technology Research, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
(2) Audiology Division, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK

In this paper, we report on an experiment that tested users’ ability to understand the content of spoken auditory reminders. Users heard meeting reminders and medication reminders spoken in both a natural and a synthetic voice. Our results show that older users can understand synthetic speech as well as younger users provided that the prompt texts are well-designed, using familiar words and contextual cues. As soon as unfamiliar and complex words are introduced, users’ hearing affects how well they can understand the synthetic voice, even if their hearing would pass common screening tests for speech synthesis experiments. Although hearing thresholds correlate best with users’ performance, central auditory processing may also influence performance, especially when complex errors are made.

Full Paper  Presentation (pdf)
Sound examples:   01   02  

Bibliographic reference.  Wolters, Maria / Campbell, Pauline / DePlacido, Christine / Liddell, Amy / Owens, David (2007): "Making speech synthesis more accessible to older people", In SSW6-2007, 288-293.