Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Major Professor

Jean C. Krause, Ph.D.


Interpreter skills, Deaf education, Visual communication, Lecture reception, Accuracy


While a majority of deaf students mainstreamed in public schools rely on interpreters, little research has investigated interpreter skills and no research to date has focused on interpreter intelligibility (Kluwin & Stewart, 2001). This thesis is the second in a series of experiments designed to quantify the contribution of various factors affecting the intelligibility of interpreters (transliterators) who use English-based communication modes. In the first experiment, 12 Cued Speech transliterators were asked to transliterate an audio lecture. Two aspects of these transliterated performances were then analyzed: 1) accuracy, as measured as the percent-correct cues produced, and 2) lag time, the average delay between lecture and transliterated message. For this thesis, eight expert receivers of Cued Speech were presented with visual stimuli from the transliterated messages and asked to transcribe the stimuli.

Intelligibility was measured as the percentage of words correctly received. Results show a positive nonlinear relationship exits between transliterator accuracy and message intelligibility. Intelligibility improved with accuracy at the same rate for both novice and veteran transliterators, but receiver task difficulty was less for stimuli produced by veterans than novices (as evidenced by a left shift in the psychometric function for veterans compared to novices). No large effects of lag time were found in the accuracy-intelligibility relationship, but an "optimal lag time" range was noted from 1 to 1.5 seconds, for which intelligibility scores were higher overall. Intelligibility scores were generally higher than accuracy, but not all transliterators followed the same accuracy-intelligibility pattern due to other sources of variability.

Possible sources of transliterator variability included rate of cueing, visible speech clarity, facial expression, timing (to show syllable stress or word emphasis), cueing mechanics, and mouth-cue synchronization. Further research is needed to determine the impact these factors have on intelligibility so that future transliterator training and certification can focus on all factors necessary to ensure highly intelligible Cued Speech transliterators.