The role of speech-based strategies in prose reading was tested in two experiments with braillists at different levels of proficiency. Subjects read prose texts in silent and oral control conditions, under articulatory suppression, and while making non-speech movements during silent and oral reading, respectively.
Experiment 1 used relatively difficult braille texts and showed that articulatory suppression reduced comprehension significantly compared to the other conditions. Speed (syllables per minute) was not significantly reduced under articulatory suppression, although two subjects were unable to read at all in that condition.
Experiment 2 used easy texts and included beginning readers. Proficiency levels interacted significantly with experimental conditions for both speed and comprehension. The best readers showed no effect of articulatory suppression on either speed or comprehension with easy texts. Beginners showed significantly reduced speed and comprehension (or failed to score at all) under articulatory suppression, despite good comprehension in control conditions. For subjects in the middle groups, articulatory suppression had some effect on comprehension, but speeded rather than slowed reading, if anything.
The results suggest that articulatory suppression can affect input strategies as well as comprehension, but that the strategies which underly it vary with skill and text conditions. It was argued that suppression taps important but changing strategies in prose reading.