Objective: To present the methodology for speech assessment in the Scandcleft project and discuss issues from a pilot study.
Design: Description of methodology and blinded test for speech assessment. Speech samples and instructions for data collection and analysis for comparisons of speech outcomes across five included languages were developed and tested. PARTICIPANTS AND MATERIALS: Randomly selected video recordings of 10 5-year-old children from each language (n = 50) were included in the project. Speech material consisted of test consonants in single words, connected speech, and syllable chains with nasal consonants. Five experienced speech and language pathologists participated as observers.
Main outcome measures: Narrow phonetic transcription of test consonants translated into cleft speech characteristics, ordinal scale rating of resonance, and perceived velopharyngeal closure (VPC). A velopharyngeal composite score (VPC-sum) was extrapolated from raw data. Intra-agreement comparisons were performed.
Results: Range for intra-agreement for consonant analysis was 53% to 89%, for hypernasality on high vowels in single words the range was 20% to 80%, and the agreement between the VPC-sum and the overall rating of VPC was 78%.
Conclusions: Pooling data of speakers of different languages in the same trial and comparing speech outcome across trials seems possible if the assessment of speech concerns consonants and is confined to speech units that are phonetically similar across languages. Agreed conventions and rules are important. A composite variable for perceptual assessment of velopharyngeal function during speech seems usable; whereas, the method for hypernasality evaluation requires further testing.