Tone Enhancement in Mandarin Speech for Listeners with Hearing Impairment

Jian LU  Norihiro UEMI  Gang LI  Tohru IFUKUBE  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E84-D   No.5   pp.651-661
Publication Date: 2001/05/01
Online ISSN: 
Print ISSN: 0916-8532
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Speech and Hearing
acoustic processing,  hearing aid,  tone modification,  Mandarin tone,  

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In this paper, a digital processing method is described for modifying tone contrast that is defined as the greatest difference in frequencies between peaks and valleys of pitch curves in monosyllable utterances. Under quiet and noisy backgrounds, modified Mandarin tone words were presented to hearing-im- paired Chinese listeners with moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss. The listeners were asked to identify four alternative monosyllable words which were distinguishable by tones 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively. Employing this method, it was found that modified speech with enhanced tone contrast yielded moderate gains in the percentage of correct identification of the tones when compared to unmodified speech tones with only compression amplification. It was likewise found that reducing tone contrast generally reduced the degree of correct tone identification. These findings therefore offer support to the assertion that a hearing aid with tone modifications is indeed effective for hearing-impaired Chinese.