The effect of environmental noise on speech perception of individuals with sensorineural hearing loss: a prospective observational study

Lokanath Sahoo, Krushnendu Sundar Sahoo, Nitish Kumar Nayak


Background: This study was done to identify the effect that environmental noises have on speech perception of individual with sensorineural hearing loss. The objectives were to develop evidence-based approach to support the need for sophisticated technology and to choose the better one for daily listening purposes of Hearing-Impaired individual to obtain a speech perception score when environmental noises are used as competing signal.

Methods: The study was executed in three phases. In phase 1, developing a noise check list and recording the noise levels at different places by using sound level meter, in phase 2, analyzing the recorded noises into spectral and temporal distributions by using software and phase 3, testing the hearing loss individual’s syllables in the presence of recorded noises.  

Results: For 0 dB signal to noise ratio (SNR), the mean scores for white noise and temple noise were higher than for other noise types. The bus and auto noise conditions also showed significant difference in values between them. For +10 dB SNR, speech scores obtained for audiometry noise differed statistically from only restaurant and traffic noise. The traffic noise being the poorest differed statistically from all other noise types. On the other end of range, restaurant noise showed highest speech scores.

Conclusions: The overall the scores were a lot higher for only restaurant noise and noise of travel in auto. These showed effect of masking release and that hearing impaired are better able to understand conversations in these situations at least.


Speech perception, Audiometry noise, Environmental noise, Signal to noise ratio, Pure tone average

Full Text:



Cooper J, Betty JR, Cutts P. Speech discrimination in noise. J Speech Language Hearing Res. 1971;14:332-7.

Danhauer JL, Doyle PC, Lucks L. Effects of noise on NST and NU 6 stimuli. Ear Hear. 1985;6:227-77.

Cherry C. Some experiments on the recognition of speech with one and with two ears. J Acoustical Society Am. 1953;25:975-9.

Bentler R, Chiou LK. Digital noise reduction: An overview. Trends in Amplification. 2006;10:67-82.

Rheergen KS, Neik JV, Dreschler WA. Prediction of the intelligibility for speech in real-life background noises for subjects with normal hearing. Ear Hear. 2008;29:169-75.

Fallon M, Trehub SE, Schneider BA. Children perception of speech in multi talker babble. J Acoustical Society Am. 2000;108:3023-9.

Speaks C, Jane LK. Effect of a competing message on synthetic sentence identification. J Speech Language Hear Res. 1967;10:859-64.

Keith RW, Talis HP. Effect of white noise on PB score of normal and hearing impaired listeners. Int J Audiol. 1972;11:177-86.

Cruckley J, Scollie S, Parsa V. An exploration of Non quiet listening at school. J Education Audiol. 2011;17:23-35.

Klemp EJ, Dhar S. Speech perception in noise using directional microphone in open canal hearing aids. J Am Acad Audiol. 2008;19:571-8.

Kochkin S. Increasing hearing aid adoption through multiple environmental listening utility. The Hear J. 2007;60:28-49.

Howard‐Jones PA, Rosen S. Uncomodulated glimpsing in ‘‘checkerboard’’ noise. J Acoustical Society Am. 1993;93(5):2915-22.

Auriemmo J, Kuk F, Lau C, Marshall S, Thiele N, Pikora M, et al. Effect of linear frequency transposition on speech recognition and production of school-age children. J Am Acad Audiol. 2009;20(5):289-305.

Gravel JS, Fausel N, Liskow C, Chobot J. Children's speech recognition in noise using omni-directional and dual-microphone hearing aid technology. Ear Hearing. 1999;20(1):1-1.

Pittman AL, Wiley TL. Recognition of speech produced in noise. J Speech Language Hearing Res. 2001.

Stelmachowicz P, Lewis D, Hoover B, Nishi K, McCreery R, Woods W. Effects of digital noise reduction on speech perception for children with hearing loss. Ear Hearing. 2010;31(3):345.