Adrian KC Lee practices using an
otoscope with Wade Chien. Exploring how clinicians diagnose various ear, nose and throat disorders are an essential part of the SHBT learning experience. Photo by Brad Buran.
Why study speech and hearing?
- Because producing and perceiving sound are integral parts of everyday life – and because our most significant use of sound is to communicate through speech.
- Because there is so much more to discover about the universal power of music to move, inspire, and delight human beings, across all human cultures.
- Because the more often human beings need to interact with electronic machines, the more we need to know about how machines might interact with us naturally through spoken language.
- Because, with an aging population, there is mounting pressure to help people with impaired abilities effectively produce speech or perceive sounds. Communication disorders (including voice, speech, language, and hearing disorders) already affect one of every six people in the United States, damaging their quality of life and exacting substantial costs – and that number is certain to climb.
- Because we are inspired by recent gains, and confident of future progress. In the hearing field, biomedical technologies such as cochlear implants and hearing aids have already enhanced communication for many people with impaired hearing; regenerative medicine holds great future promise for rebuilding the damaged ear.
In the speech field, artificial larynxes are helping laryngectomy patients; in the future, regenerative technologies will be able to restore the voice following vocal-fold scarring. Emerging speech technologies will also lead to new assistive devices for language disorders.
And why take an interdisciplinary approach?
- Because nearly every aspect of human communication involves a highly complex interplay between neural, biomechanical, acoustical and cognitive systems; in other words, expanding our understanding of how speech and hearing work, and of the best ways to correct communication disorders, is an interdisciplinary problem that demands an interdisciplinary response.