Which COVID face masks are best for clarifying speech and understanding the student?

Due to the ubiquity of masks due to the coronavirus pandemic, speech became difficult to understand. Pasquale Bottalico will study the effects of masks on communication and will discuss his findings at the 179th ASA Meeting. Credit: Bottalico

As instructors continue to wear masks for the safety of themselves and their students, the question of which masks allow for the best speech comprehension has a major impact on education.

Due to the ubiquity of masks due to the coronavirus pandemic, speech became difficult to understand. This is especially true of speech in a classroom where the presence of a mask and room acoustics affect students’ comprehension.

Pasquale Bottalico of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studies the effects of masks on communication. In fact, at the 179th meeting of the American Acoustic Society on December 7-10, he will discuss his findings on the best way to overcome hearing impairments in a classroom caused by face masks. The report, “Speech is Understandable When a Speaker Wears a Face Mask,” will be presented at a session on class acoustics on Wednesday, December 9, at 3:15 p.m.

“Fabrics are often used for sound absorption due to their porous structure. A porous material absorbs sound energy as it reduces the vibration of air particles by friction. ” “As a result, face masks act as a low-pass filter that weakens the intensity of speech at medium to high frequencies, which is mainly the basis for speech comprehension.”

According to Bottalico, the most important frequency range for speech to be intelligible is face masks.

When comparing three types of masks in two different classroom settings – a three-layer mask, a surgical mask and an N95 mask, he found that cloth masks were the most inconvenient choice for the listener to understand and strongly suggested the use of teachers. surgical or N95 masks.

“Because of the problems COVID-19 It forces us to face it, and the importance of this work is to give advice on the best type of masks when teaching to minimize the negative effects on speech comprehension. ” “The use of surgical and N95 masks can minimize adverse effects on speech comprehension and students’ listening efforts while protecting teachers and students alike.”

Meeting: 179th Meeting of the American Acoustic Society

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