Speaking rates of individuals with severe ataxic dysarthria (n = 4) and severe hypokinetic dysarthria (n = 4) were reduced to 60% and 80% of habitual rates using four different pacing strategies (Additive Metered, Additive Rhythmic, Cued Metered, and Cued Rhythmic). Effects of rate control on sentence and phoneme intelligibility and speech naturalness were examined. Sentence intelligibility improved for both groups, with metered pacing conditions associated with the largest improvement in scores. Similar improvements as speaking rates were reduced were not seen for the phoneme intelligibility task; however, one must recognize that sentence and phoneme intelligibility tasks are different. Slowing the rate of dysarthric speakers did not have as marked an impact on speech naturalness as it did for normal speakers whose naturalness decreased at slowed rates. Metered rate control strategies were associated with the lowest ratings of naturalness for all subject groups. A potential explanation for the discrepancies between the findings for sentence and phoneme intelligibility is offered.
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