PEOPLE with hearing difficulties are taking part in a new experiment at the University of Salford that aims to improve the experience of watching TV.

The new experiment could see the development of a personalised experience that would meet the individual’s needs.

PhD student Lauren Ward said: “Most shows use sound effects to aid understanding of a plotline or a news package and some do it better than others.

For example, Channel 4’s Humans, employs distinct sounds to differential the Synths from regular humans. “These sound effects aim to help the viewer to follow the story, but some say they are a distraction. “Our (Salford Univresitresearch is testing that out to see which sounds enhance and which hinder.

“Ultimately we want to learn how to balance these sounds and clarity of speech to improve the overall quality of TV sound, particularly for hearing impaired listeners.”

Douglas Edworthy, a participant in the new experiment said: “I find with most TV programmes if the producer wants to improve the ‘realism’ by putting in lots and lots of background noise it and for people who are a little bit deaf like me it becomes really difficult to understand.”

A local resident of Manchester who is taking part in the experiment said:

“The experiment is going to see whether introducing a little bit of sound effect, it actually helps people to understand what is being said if there is a background noise.

“She was playing me speech sentences through the loud speaker but with a lot of background noise there and she was varying the difference in level between the speech and the background noise and so I had to pick out the last word that was being said and write it down or guess if I could work out what it was.”

The student responsible for the experiment added:

“In order to have something that can adapt to what’s best for an individual’s needs, we need to understand when the listener has all those different elements and what role they are playing.

That’s what this early stage of the work is trying to do, is to try and figure out some of these sort of profiles of what people need so then when we go to implement we can understand when people’s hearing behaves in a certain way what they might then need.”

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