Using Speech Bananas in Hearing Loss Assessments and Hearing Tests

The expression “speech banana” can bring many funny images to mind, for instance a banana-shaped listening device, but that would be incorrect.Speech banana is a reference to the placement of sounds in an audiogram – a visual representation of someone’s hearing acuity inside a range of volumes and frequencies. Audiograms are graphs of sound frequency (on the x axis) and loudness (on the vertical axis). In a hearing check, each test sound is characterized by its volume and frequency and can be plotted on a chart.

The expression ‘speech banana’ comes from the banana-shaped collection of dots on the audiogram that arises when human language is examined. The spoken sound of all of the letters in the alphabet, except q, w, x, and y, fall inside the speech banana, as do the widespread letter pairs ng, ch, sh and th.

For those who have normal hearing, you can hear sounds inside this range, but can also hear higher-frequency sounds such as a mosquito or a glass breaking and lower-frequency sounds such as a fog horn or thunder. However the sounds that are most critical to our communications with other humans are the sounds we produce when speaking. It is extremely common for individuals to have trouble hearing or understanding certain vowels and letter combinations such as ng, th, sh and ch.

When hearing impairment affects the frequencies and volumes inside the speech banana it disrupts person-to-person communications. That’s why audiologists will often concentrate on that range. If an audiogram shows that an individual has loss of hearing within the speech banana range, it is virtually certain that they are having communication problems.

The speech banana is regarded as so important to healthy hearing that many school districts have mandated audiograms for their students in order to identify and address hearing problems early, espcially those impacting communications. This is also a primary reason why it is so important to have your hearing aids,if you own them, correctly programmed and “tuned” by a qualified audiologist or hearing instrument specialist, who can ensure that you are hearing sounds inside this speech banana area clearly. Make certain you don’t miss the human speech in your life by requesting a hearing evaluation and professional audiogram if you believe there is a problem.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.