PURPOSE - There is an ongoing need to develop assessments of spontaneous speech that focus on whether the child's utterances are comprehensible to listeners. This study sought to identify the attributes of a stable ratings-based measure of speech comprehensibility, which enabled examining the criterion-related validity of an orthography-based measure of the comprehensibility of conversational speech in students with Down syndrome.
METHOD - Participants were 10 elementary school students with Down syndrome and 4 unfamiliar adult raters. Averaged across-observer Likert ratings of speech comprehensibility were called a ratings-based measure of speech comprehensibility. The proportion of utterance attempts fully glossed constituted an orthography-based measure of speech comprehensibility.
RESULTS - Averaging across 4 raters on four 5-min segments produced a reliable (G = .83) ratings-based measure of speech comprehensibility. The ratings-based measure was strongly (r > .80) correlated with the orthography-based measure for both the same and different conversational samples.
CONCLUSION - Reliable and valid measures of speech comprehensibility are achievable with the resources available to many researchers and some clinicians.