Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Speech Perception: It's not all Talk

    Speech perception can be defined as the process in which sounds of language are heard, interpreted and understood. Speech is typically viewed as the primary way of communicating and often speech needs to be heard via the auditory sense in order to be understood. However speech is not simply spoken, it is multisensory, and for those who may be missing a sense, language can still be spoken. Starting with the basics of speech and a conversation between two people. When listening to the sounds or tone of voice a person uses you can usually gather a lot about the conversation as well as what the other person may be feeling, and this may aid you in the ability to respond back.  Besides just using the auditory sense you can use your visual senses as well.  When you and another person are having a conversation you often watch them a lot for visual cues that might also go along with what they are talking about. If a person is talking with a wide grin and they are moving their arms around frantically, you can come to the very quick assumption that they are excited or happy. Visual aids of body language are huge in having a conversation and understanding social cues.

    But what if you don’t have all of your senses? The definition of speech perception states that it is the sound of language being heard, interpreted and understood; However if you're deaf or blind, or even both, hearing the sound of conversation is not the type of way you interpret speech and or language. There are two ways for those who are deaf or hearing impaired to still perceive speech. 

    For those who are deaf there is Sign language, here in the states it is American Sign Language (ASL) and is used by most of the deaf and hearing impaired community in America and Canada. ASL is described as a complete and organized visual language that is expressed by employing both manual and non manual features. ASL is a type of speech perception for those who can not hear or have trouble hearing sounds being spoken or made to them. Visuals are very important in ASL, body language and face emotion is important for relaying tone and feeling and the hand sign often needs to be visible to be understood.

For those who are deaf and blind there is something called the Tadoma method, which was used often by Hellen Keller, this is a multisensory form of speech perception. Those who are blind and deaf would touch the face, throat, and hands to track movements of ASL, facial expressions, as well as understand tone through vibrations, and words through lip reading by touch.

    These are a few examples of how even when missing the auditory sense there is still a way to perceive speech. The definition of speech perception is not at a whole very inclusive to those who may be experiencing from some form of sense impairment.

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