Developing a weighted measure of speech sound accuracy

Jonathan L. Preston, Heather L. Ramsdell, D. Kimbrough Oller, Mary Louise Edwards, Stephen J. Tobin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Purpose: To develop a system for numerically quantifying a speaker's phonetic accuracy through transcription-basedmeasures. With a focus on normal and disordered speech in children, the authors describe a system for differentially weighting speech sound errors on the basis of various levels of phonetic accuracy using a Weighted Speech Sound Accuracy (WSSA) score. The authors then evaluate the reliability and validity of this measure. Method: Phonetic transcriptions were analyzed from several samples of child speech, including preschoolers and young adolescents with and without speech sound disorders and typically developing toddlers. The new measure of phonetic accuracy was validated against existing measures, was used to discriminate typical and disordered speech production, and was evaluated to examine sensitivity to changes in phonetic accuracy over time. Reliability between transcribers and consistency of scores among different word sets and testing points are compared. Results: Initial psychometric data indicate that WSSA scores correlate with other measures of phonetic accuracy as well as listeners' judgments of the severity of a child's speech disorder. The measure separates children with and without speech sound disorders and captures growth in phonetic accuracy in toddlers' speech over time. The measure correlates highly across transcribers, word lists, and testing points. Conclusion: Results provide preliminary support for the WSSA as a valid and reliable measure of phonetic accuracy in children's speech.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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