Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale

Download our Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale to assess and improve clarity in speech. Perfect for therapists and educators. Enhance communication now.

By Telita Montales on May 15, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is speech intelligibility?

Speech intelligibility refers to how easily a listener can understand speech. It's a crucial aspect of communication, especially in diagnosing and treating speech sound disorders. Intelligibility varies from completely intelligible (easily understood) to completely unintelligible (difficult or impossible).

What is unintelligible speech?

Unintelligible speech is when spoken words are hard to understand or interpret by the listener. This may be due to speech sound disorders, developmental delays, or other communication disorders, often observed in preschool children.

Causes of unintelligible speech

The roots of unintelligible speech are diverse and multifaceted, encompassing a range of conditions that interfere with clear communication. Hearing impairments can obscure the auditory feedback necessary for accurate speech production, while neurological disorders may disrupt the brain's ability to coordinate the muscle movements required for speech. Developmental speech sound disorders impact the formation and articulation of phonemes, the building blocks of speech. These complexities make unintelligible speech a significant area of interest in hearing research and clinical linguistics, aiming to refine therapeutic approaches for improved speech clarity and communication effectiveness.

Printable Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale

Download this Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale that is used in speech-language pathology to assess the overall intelligibility of an individual's speech.

What is a Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale?

A Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale is a tool used in speech-language pathology to assess the overall intelligibility of an individual's speech. It helps determine how speech disorders affect the ability to communicate clearly.

The primary objective of using a Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale is to measure how well others can understand an individual's speech. This scale provides a way to assess the clarity and comprehensibility of someone's speech in various contexts, such as conversational speech, reading aloud, or speaking in noisy environments.

The scale is typically used with individuals with difficulty producing speech sounds accurately and consistently. Various factors, such as developmental delays, neurological conditions, hearing loss, or structural abnormalities in the mouth or throat may cause these impairments. Using this scale, speech-language pathologists can identify patterns of speech errors and determine the severity of the disorder.

How does our Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale template work?

Our template is designed to systematically rate speech intelligibility, from completely intelligible to completely unintelligible (Al-shawi, et al., 2020). It factors in the clarity of speech sounds and the listener's ability to understand spoken words in various contexts. Follow this step-by-step process to utilize the Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale effectively:

  1. Access the template: Download our Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale template, designed to simplify the assessment process.
  2. Familiarize with the scale: Review the scale, which ranges from completely intelligible (easily understood in various contexts) to completely unintelligible (difficult or impossible to understand).
  3. Assess speech sounds: Listen to the individual's speech, focusing on the clarity of speech sounds. Pay attention to how distinctly each sound is articulated and how it contributes to overall speech intelligibility.
  4. Evaluate comprehension: Consider the listener's ability to understand the spoken words. This involves assessing speech in different contexts to gauge if comprehension varies across situations.
  5. Rate intelligibility: Using the criteria provided in the template, rate the individual's speech intelligibility. The scale helps categorize speech as completely intelligible, mostly intelligible, understandable with effort, frequently unintelligible, or completely unintelligible.
  6. Identify areas for improvement: Based on the rating, identify specific areas where speech therapy or interventions could enhance speech intelligibility.
  7. Implement interventions: Use the insights gained from the rating scale to tailor speech therapy interventions to improve the identified areas of difficulty.
  8. Monitor progress: Reassess speech intelligibility periodically using the same scale to monitor progress and adjust interventions as needed.

This structured approach ensures a comprehensive assessment of speech intelligibility, facilitating targeted interventions and supporting effective communication development.

Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale example

Carepatron provides a free Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale template designed to evaluate and document the clarity of an individual's speech across five levels, from "Completely Intelligible" to "Completely Unintelligible." This comprehensive tool supports speech-language pathologists, educators, and caregivers in assessing speech clarity, facilitating targeted interventions, and monitoring progress over time.

Download our free Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale example here

Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale example

Who can use this scale?

The Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale is a versatile evaluation tool designed to benefit a wide array of users committed to enhancing communication skills:

Speech language pathologists

Utilize the scale to diagnose speech intelligibility issues accurately, guide treatment planning, and monitor patient progress through therapy.

Researchers in clinical linguistics

Employ the scale to investigate the nuances of speech disorders, evaluate the effectiveness of various interventions, and contribute to the body of knowledge in speech and hearing sciences.


Leverage the scale to assess the speech intelligibility of students, particularly preschool children, to adapt teaching methods and communication strategies better to support each child's learning journey.

Parents of preschool children

The scale can be a valuable resource for parents who want to understand their child's speech development, recognize early signs of speech difficulties, and effectively advocate for their child's needs.

The Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale serves as a critical resource for these groups, pivoting in identifying intervention needs, facilitating timely and effective communication support, and fostering speech development and clarity progress.

How speech therapists help make speech intelligible

Speech therapists utilize a comprehensive and nuanced approach to enhance speech intelligibility, employing various techniques tailored to address the specific challenges each faces. Their strategies include:

  • Articulation therapy: This involves exercises and practices designed to correct the pronunciation of specific speech sounds. Therapists work with individuals to adjust the placement and movement of the tongue, lips, and jaw to produce clearer and more accurate speech sounds. Through repetitive practice and feedback, clients learn to modify how they articulate difficult sounds, improving speech clarity.
  • Phonological awareness activities: These activities aim to improve the individual's awareness of the sound structures of words, an essential skill for effective speech and language development. Activities might include rhyming, segmenting words into sounds, and blending sounds to form words. This heightened awareness helps correct patterns of sound errors and improve speech's overall intelligibility.
  • Auditory discrimination training: This training enhances the individual's ability to hear and differentiate between sounds. By improving auditory discrimination, clients become more attuned to the nuances of speech sounds, which can positively impact their ability to produce them more distinctly.
  • Language enrichment techniques: Speech therapists also employ strategies to enrich language skills, including expanding vocabulary, improving sentence structure, and enhancing storytelling abilities. These techniques contribute to clearer communication by ensuring individuals can express their thoughts and ideas more effectively.
  • Voice control exercises: Another area of focus is controlling the voice's pitch, volume, and quality. Therapists guide individuals in exercises that improve vocal control, which can significantly impact how intelligible others perceive speech.
  • Breath control techniques: Proper breath support is critical for strong and clear speech. Therapists teach exercises to control breathing, ensuring speech has the necessary volume and steadiness, enhancing overall intelligibility.
  • Use of assistive technologies: For some, technology offers additional avenues for improvement. Devices and software applications that support speech production and auditory training can be integral components of therapy.

Speech therapists' multifaceted approach targets the mechanical aspects of speech production and addresses speech's cognitive and sensory underpinnings. By combining these techniques with personalized care plans, therapists play a crucial role in transforming unintelligible speech into clear, effective communication, opening up new opportunities for engagement and expression for those they help.

Why use Carepatron as your speech therapy software?

Carepatron is the preferred choice for seeking an efficient digital solution for speech therapy practices. Our telehealth platform not only simplifies patient records management but also enhances the quality of care through features like secure video consultations and customizable therapy plans.

With Carepatron, therapists can easily administer assessments, such as the Speech Intelligibility Rating Scale, directly within the platform, enabling real-time monitoring and adjustment of therapy strategies based on patient progress.

Additionally, Carepatron fosters a collaborative environment between therapists and their patients. Through our patient portal software, individuals can access exercises and educational materials and communicate with their therapists, ensuring consistent engagement and support outside traditional therapy sessions. This continuous interaction is pivotal for speech therapy, where practice and feedback can significantly influence outcomes.

By choosing Carepatron, speech therapists gain access to robust features designed to streamline administrative tasks, enhance patient engagement, and become part of a community dedicated to advancing speech therapy practices through technology.

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Al-shawi, Y., Mesallam, T., Albakheet, N., Alshawi, M., Pm, C., Alfallaj, R., Aldrees, T., Algahtani, A., & Alotaibi, T. (2020). Validation and inter-rater reliability testing of the Arabic version of speech intelligibility rating among children with cochlear implant. Saudi Medical Journal, 41, 1139-1143. https://doi.org/10.15537/smj.2020.10.25342

How is speech intelligibility measured?
How is speech intelligibility measured?

Commonly asked questions

How is speech intelligibility measured?

Speech intelligibility is measured through standardized tests where listeners rate the clarity of spoken words, transcription methods calculating the percentage of correctly understood words, and sometimes through acoustic analyses. These methods assess how clearly speech sounds are articulated and understood by others.

What impact does unintelligible speech have on learning?

Unintelligible speech can hinder learning, affecting phonological awareness, reading, writing, and social interactions. It may lead to frustration, reduced self-esteem, and social withdrawal, emphasizing the importance of early intervention.

Can speech intelligibility improve with therapy?

Yes, with targeted therapy from speech-language pathologists, speech intelligibility can improve significantly. Therapy plans often include articulation therapy, phonological activities, and auditory training tailored to the individual's needs. Early assessment and consistent therapy enhance speech clarity and effective communication.

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