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  1. Stand-alone devices for tactile speech reception serve a need as communication aids for persons with profound sensory impairments as well as in applications such as human-computer interfaces and remote communication when the normal auditory and visual channels are compromised or overloaded. The current research is concerned with perceptual evaluations of a phoneme-based tactile speech communication device in which a unique tactile code was assigned to each of the 24 consonants and 15 vowels of English. The tactile phonemic display was conveyed through an array of 24 tactors that stimulated the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the forearm. Experiments examined the recognition of individual words as a function of the inter-phoneme interval (Study 1) and two-word phrases as a function of the inter-word interval (Study 2). Following an average training period of 4.3 hrs on phoneme and word recognition tasks, mean scores for the recognition of individual words in Study 1 ranged from 87.7% correct to 74.3% correct as the inter-phoneme interval decreased from 300 to 0 ms. In Study 2, following an average of 2.5 hours of training on the two-word phrase task, both words in the phrase were identified with an accuracy of 75% correct using an inter-word interval of 1 sec and an inter-phoneme interval of 150 ms. Effective transmission rates achieved on this task were estimated to be on the order of 30 to 35 words/min. 
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