British Accent May Pose Comprehension Challenges for Older Adults With Hearing Loss Understanding a British accent can be difficult for older American-accented adults with hearing loss when in the presence of background noise, suggests University of Utah research presented at the May meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. The small study—led by Caroline Champougny, a neurolinguist and visiting scholar at Utah—found ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   August 01, 2016
British Accent May Pose Comprehension Challenges for Older Adults With Hearing Loss
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Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Older Adults & Aging / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   August 01, 2016
British Accent May Pose Comprehension Challenges for Older Adults With Hearing Loss
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 15. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.21082016.15
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 15. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.21082016.15
Understanding a British accent can be difficult for older American-accented adults with hearing loss when in the presence of background noise, suggests University of Utah research presented at the May meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.
The small study—led by Caroline Champougny, a neurolinguist and visiting scholar at Utah—found that although American and British accents were both difficult for older adults with hearing impairments to understand in background noise, the listeners had a harder time understanding the British accents. In quiet environments, they still had slightly more trouble comprehending British accents than American accents.

“With British speech, [older American adults] are struggling if there is background noise.”

The researchers studied 14 older people with hearing loss and 14 college-age students with normal hearing, and found that the younger participants could understand both accents equally well in quiet environments, and had the same level of difficulty hearing both accents with background noise.
Participants listened to recordings of Basic English Lexicon sentences read aloud by one American-accented speaker and one British-accented speaker, first in quiet and then a second time against a recorded background babble of American speakers.
“An older, hearing-impaired adult listening to American speech might be struggling, but most of the time they’re going to get the message,” Champougny says. “With British speech, they are struggling if there is background noise.”
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August 2016
Volume 21, Issue 8