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Website Launched:  12/26/1994
Last Update:  2/14/2013
The Integrity Center, Inc.

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[ Since 1984 ]
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Speech Perception in a
Noisy Environment (tm)

Many people have normal or near-normal hearing when given a standard hearing screening test in a clinical setting.   However, when they are required to understand or perceive words or sentences in a setting with background noise, they function poorly.   According to the World Health Organization, "Even slight hearing impairments in the high-frequency sound range may cause problems with speech perception in a noisy environment."

Most commonly these problems are noticeable in Customer Service Personnel, Security Monitors, Professionals who must use radio communications, Pilots, Command and Control Operators, or any employees whose job it is to listen and understand.

In many jobs, it is critical that the listener be able to understand speech over some level of background noise.   Also, the Americans With Disabilities Act requires "reasonable accommodation" for physical impairments.   You need to be able to identify which employees have this job-related problem.   Then, you need to be able to decide which employees can be accommodated either with special amplification or with Listening Training.

Hence, we designed, and in 1994 had developed for us by one of the premier medical schools in the U.S., a two-part test that can be administered in 15 minutes.   The first part asks the subject to repeat single syllable words that are presented at incrementally changing signal-to-noise ratios over background "multi-talker babble (noise)".   The second part is similar, but presents short sentences to be repeated.

The result of the test for each subject is a set of two signal-to-noise ratios, for single syllable words and short sentences respectively, as measured in decibels, that are the thresholds for speech perception by the subject.   These are plotted for each subject on an individual Speech Perception Ability Chart (tm) where they are compared to both national norms and your organization's norms.

The test is very easy to administer.    The Integrity Center provides you with the test CD, on loan, and you play that for your subjects in a normal office environment using an approved CD player and an approved headset.   At the same time that your Test Monitor is administering the test, the Test Monitor is checking-off on an Internet web page those words that are correctly repeated by the subject.   At the conclusion of the test, the Test Monitor clicks the SHOW TEST RESULTS button, and another web page immediately appears with a print interface containing the graphical report of the subject's test.   The Test Monitor prints that page, signs it, and enters it in the subject's file.

For those organizations wanting to collect the test data for their HR database, we have provided an API protocol for their IT personnel to use so that they can collect the records over the Internet from The Integrity Center's data center.

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