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Fairbanks, Grant. Experimental Phonetics – T31

Appendix C
Speech and Hearing Science **1

Gordon E. Peterson and Grant Fairbanks *2
The University of Michigan and The University of Southern California

There is an obvious unrest in the American
Speech and Hearing Association. This is especially
evident in the constant concern about the nature and
status of the profession. It is a concern which has
been increasing, and appears to be expressed most
strongly by those who have participated in the affairs
of the Association over a period of several years. Apparently,
the size of the Association offers a security
to many of the younger Members which is not shared
by those more experienced in the field. The concern is
well illustrated by the article on ‘A Name for the
Profession of Speech and Hearing’ by the Executive
Council of the Association in the July, 1962 issue of

The unrest in the Association is probably of greatest
concern to those responsible for college and university
programs in speech and hearing disorders. It
is these professors who are primarily responsible for
the future development of professional activity in
the field. It is they who must make the major decisions
about the relationship of the field of speech and hearing
disorders to other sciences and professions. It is
they, too, who must accept the responsibility for any
weaknesses and inadequacies in academic programs
in speech and hearing disorders in this country.

Related Disciplines

The superficial dilemma which faces the Association
is one of allegiance. For a long period of time, and to
a considerable extent even yet, teaching and research
in the field of speech and hearing disorders have been
carried on primarily within Departments of Speech
in Colleges of Arts and Sciences. Obviously, there is
some relation between instruction in the arts and
skills of speech and in the study of the science and
disorders of speech. Students in general speech courses
often need voice training and occasionally exhibit
defective speech. A Speech Clinic is a desirable adjunct
to instruction in general speech.

From time to time it has appeared that basic work
in speech and hearing science and the typically larger
programs in speech and hearing disorders might hold
a major, if not dominant, position within departments
of speech. But the differences in views and purposes
between those who teach the arts and skills of speech
and those who teach the science and disorders of
speech are too great. There is an increasing recognition
that programs of speech and hearing science and
disorders are unnecessarily misunderstood and handicapped
in such an environment.

For the most part, those who study general speech
are not, in our observation, seriously interested in
the subjects or in the methods essential to the study
of speech and hearing science and disorders. They
find their main interests in the arts, literature, and
the social sciences, whereas, those who work in speech
and hearing disorders must, of necessity, study the
behavioral sciences, and preferably also the biological
and physical sciences. The academic distance between
public address and drama may be significant, but in
no sense is it as great as the distance between either
of these disciplines and speech science, psychophysics,
speech disorders, or audiology. We have had a curious
past in which many who set out on a course of general
speech study have found an increasing interest in
speech disorders.

Strong relationships with other disciplines are now
being established by those who work in the field of
speech and hearing disorders. The disciplines include
psychology, special education, neurology, and several
others, as diagrammed in the above-mentioned article
by the Executive Council. Those responsible for teaching
and research in the disorders of speech and hearing
are being persuaded in the many directions
represented by these diverse, related disciplines and

And so it is that many who are responsible for
university training in the field of speech and hearing
disorders are looking elsewhere, to departments other
than general speech, and even to other colleges for an
affiliation for their teaching and research programs.
There is much uncertainty and the transition is slow,
for the location of the Speech and Hearing Clinic
within some other single college threatens the liaison
with other programs and colleges. The identification
of the Speech and Hearing Clinic with special education
or with medicine, for example, represents an
intellectual commitment about the nature of the
speech and hearing discipline which many are unwilling
to make.

The Speech and Hearing Clinic

It is a glaring fact that a Speech and Hearing
Clinic, as a professional enterprise, is an anomaly in
a College of Arts and Sciences. Although this college
often provides the home for the Psychological Clinic,
certainly there are not many different kinds of clinics
to be found in Colleges of Arts and Sciences. These
colleges are oriented toward academic disciplines, not
professional services.239

It is instructive to consider the relation of clinical
psychology to other subdisciplines within the field of
psychology. The broad discipline of psychology encompasses
numerous areas of the study of human behavior,
many of which are applied. Thoughtful
psychologists insist, however, that a prerequisite for
training in any of these applied areas must be a substantial
training in the basic discipline of psychology.
The psychologist obtains his basic training in the field
by studying such areas as quantitative methods,
sensory processes, perception, motor behavior, learning,
motivation, and personality. His work in clinical
psychology, or in any other area of professional
psychology is, indeed, considered to involve utilization
of the basic knowledge which he has acquired
about human behavior in the study of psychology
as a science. In practice this aim is often imperfectly
realized. However, with the academic orientation of
such subjects as experimental psychology, quantitative
methods, physiological psychology, and mathematical
models in psychology, the field of clinical
psychology has a foundation on which to build. It
is, perhaps, for this reason that the psychological
clinic often has the atmosphere of a research laboratory
for the study of human adjustment problems.

Much would be gained if clinical speech and hearing
had a relation to a more basic discipline in the
manner of clinical psychology. We do not see, however,
that a simple solution to the problem of the
Speech and Hearing Clinic is to be found by analogy.
The problem of affiliation is only superficial to the
basic definition of the speech and hearing field.

If we reflect upon the history of the Association, it
appears that the members of several years ago had
a more definite concept of the field, its purposes, and
the relationships within it than is evident today. It
appears that the field has become increasingly clinically
oriented, and that the objective of a basic understanding
of speech and hearing processes has become
secondary to the profession. But a clinic is not a
discipline, and if the objective, indeed, is now strictly
clinical, then it may make little difference with which
professional school or college speech and hearing
programs become affiliated.

The Place of Science in the Profession

It is frequently observed that the American Speech
and Hearing Association has become increasingly
service and professionally oriented. During the past
decade the Association has been continuously and
noisily occupied with organization, certification, and
other professional problems. We suggest that it has
even been preoccupied with these problems, for
science, during these same years, has moved ahead
at an impressive rate. Certain of the advances are
applicable to problems of speech and hearing disorders.
But as we sense teaching and practice, the
advances have gone largely unnoticed. Far too many
members of the Association are unprepared either to
understand the science or to assist in its application.
We believe it is accurate to say that many members
of the American Speech and Hearing Association
have never wished to assume responsibility for basic
research in speech and hearing science. Fortunately
there are other, more scientifically oriented disciplines
which have made, and probably will continue to
make, major technical advances in speech and hearing.

A service profession without a discipline, however,
is not likely to achieve an attractive status. Further,
the problems of speech and hearing disorders are not
characteristically simple. Communication by means
of speech is one of the most complicated activities in
which the human engages. It requires much knowledge
and good judgment to separate those with speech
handicaps who can be aided by relatively simple
techniques from those who require extensive diagnostic
procedures and complicated treatment. For
instance, of the cases that are treated we have very
little information about which cases did not require
therapy, which were not helped, and which were
injured by the efforts of the speech and hearing
clinician. The possibility of fixing the handicap more
deeply or even of making it more severe seems rarely
to worry the clinician. An inspiration to help others
is not enough; an understanding of the complex
processes involved is required.

Working with disorders of speech and hearing requires
very much more than preparation for classroom
teaching. No one would assume that a person
who has obtained a Bachelor's Degree in education
is qualified to work in clinical psychology or psychiatry.
But the American Speech and Hearing Association
has been appallingly slow to affirm that a
Bachelor's Degree in education does not per se qualify
the holder to work with those having speech and
hearing disorders. The Association should insist that
undergraduate training in the field not be oriented
primarily toward obtaining a teacher's certificate.
Certainly some of the information and techniques derived
from courses in education are of great value to
the speech and hearing specialist. In fact, information
about children and their behavior is of great
value in many professions and is essential to anyone
seeking a general education. Large numbers of courses
are not required to impart this information. More importantly,
this information is utterly inadequate to
prepare one for the total task of working with those
with speech and hearing disorders. We consider the
indispensable requirement for such a task to be a
substantial knowledge of speech and hearing science
and disorders. Training at the Bachelor's Degree level
can only provide a minimal understanding of the
basic speech and hearing processes; much more advanced
study is required for any serious understanding
of disordered processes. Unfortunately, many of
the younger students who have a natural interest in
the scientific aspects of speech and hearing are dissuaded
from these interests into limited and solely
applied curricula. We believe that the time has come,
240perhaps it has even passed, when the American
Speech and Hearing Association must take the position
that those uninterested in obtaining the basic
knowledge required for an understanding of clinical
problems should not be permitted to work in this field.

It should be emphasized that the knowledge fundamental
to an understanding of speech and hearing
disorders extends far beyond basic speech and hearing
science. Knowledge of scientific methodology and of
such content areas as acoustics, anatomy, and psychology
is essential. Can you imagine a suitable training
in the field of medicine, for example, without
some knowledge in the basic sciences of chemistry
and biology; or in the field of mechanical or electrical
engineering without some knowledge of physics?
Clearly, one cannot be well informed in all of the
disciplines relevant to disorders of speech and hearing,
but a genuine interest in some of them and in
the kind of information and methods they involve is

A curiosity about the nature of human communication
is almost universal with mankind. Perhaps this
results from the fact that symbolization is such a
basic property of intelligence and is so essential to
human function. Whatever the explanation may be,
many disciplines are taking an increasingly serious
interest in basic problems in speech and hearing.
These include information and coding theory in applied
mathematics, data processing and communication
systems theory in departments of electrical engineering,
psychoacoustics and language behavior
(psycholinguistics) in departments of psychology, the
theory of language in structural linguistics (a curious
omission from the article by the Executive Council),
and several others. Young people with strong backgrounds
in mathematics and science are working in
these disciplines and in some instances in interdisciplinary
programs to obtain a deeper understanding of
the properties of spoken language and of human
communication. The study of the structure and processes
of speech, and, more generally, the technical
study of information processing systems of all sorts
are now undergoing a very rapid development in the
university curriculum. The area of communication
sciences is a very general and basic discipline, and
there are increasing calls from all sides for experts
in the field.

We are not suggesting that those interested in
speech and hearing disorders align themselves with
some particular one of these other disciplines. We
insist, however, that speech and hearing science is
basic to work with speech and hearing disorders. We
propose that appropriate training might be achieved,
for example, within a Department of Speech and
Hearing Science. A Speech and Hearing Clinic may
be an anomaly in a College of Arts and Sciences, but
a Department of Speech and Hearing Science is not,
and a Speech and Hearing Clinic is a natural and
proper unit within such a department. Accordingly,
it is an essential thesis of this discussion that the
study of speech and hearing disorders should be associated
with the study of speech and hearing science,
and that speech and hearing science should be associated
with a College of Arts and Sciences. The basic
instruction in this field belongs in such a college,
rather than a college of education, medicine, etc. (This
applies to instruction in the discipline, not its applications.
Obviously, specialists in speech and hearing disorders
are needed in many institutions. These include
the public schools, special schools for the handicapped,
rehabilitation centers, general and special hospitals,
and other service organizations.)

The Nature of Speech and Hearing Science

Knowledge is a multidimensional continuum, not
a simple set of discrete entities. The boundaries among
the disciplines are in large measure vague and arbitrary.
Man has organized most of his knowledge
around central or focal concepts such as symbolic
abstraction, energy, life or behavior. A new focus
has appeared during the past few years, namely, information.
Subordinate to this concept are the processes
of speech and hearing. Speech and hearing
science may be considered a unified academic discipline,
and is more general than is often recognized.
In the broader sense, speech science includes the
science of both normal and abnormal speech; hearing
science includes the science of both normal and abnormal
hearing. We should like to discuss speech and
hearing science by commenting briefly upon basic
speech science and speech disorders, and then upon
basic hearing science and hearing disorders. These
areas are closely related, and a knowledge of any one
of them contributes importantly to a knowledge of
the others. The sciences fundamental to these areas
are to be found in many departments. An interest in
and serious study of these fundamental sciences are
essential to a strong knowledge in the field of speech
and hearing science.

Basic Speech Science

Basic Speech Science. Phonetics is the essential
subject of basic speech science. It is interesting to
note that in many European universities the discipline
concerned with the scientific study of natural language
is known as Phonetics. Vocal anatomy and
speech physiology are obviously fundamental to
phonetic symbolization and to descriptive phonetics.

The basic principles of linguistics are much more
important to the field of speech and hearing science
than is commonly recognized. Linguistics is concerned
with the nature of the code transmitted by
phonetic data. The structural properties of this code
are not simple, and they are not irrelevant to the
problems of those working in any of the subdisciplines
of speech and hearing science. On the contrary,
the knowledge of language structure is important
to almost any experiment employing speech

Departments of linguistics are becoming increasingly
common, and there is no reason, of coarse, to
241duplicate work already done in such departments.
There are many subjects in linguistics, such as the
structural description of foreign languages, which are
beyond the immediate interest of the speech and
hearing scientist. It is improbable that a student
can be properly trained in the field of speech and
hearing science, however, if basic courses in linguistics
are not available to him.

Essential to the area of speech science, and to
hearing science as well, is the study of quantitative
procedures and the theory of measurement.

Speech Disorders

Speech Disorders. The area of speech disorders is
both large and diverse. The diversity may be the
source of some of the uncertainty in the field about
academic affiliation. It is the study of the processes
of speech, of course, which is basic to the study of
all types of speech disorders. Work with disorders
which primarily have either a functional or an organic
basis requires a thorough knowledge of the
speech processes. Many serious students in the field
are finding it desirable to specialize in one or more of
the disorders. Such specialization requires an intensive
study of related disciplines, such as neurology,
physiology, or clinical psychology. Above all, however,
such specialization requires a knowledge of the
basic science of speech and hearing.

We consider it unfortunate that the contribution
of acoustical data to an interpretation of the actions
of the vocal mechanism has not been better understood.
The techniques of acoustic phonetics have
much to contribute to the diagnosis and to the evaluation
of speech disorders. Anyone who is serious about
the study of speech disorders cannot disregard the
direct need for a knowledge of these techniques and
of the experimental findings that have come from
them. It should also be noted that the study of speech
science is greatly aided by observations on mechanisms
which function abnormally.

It has become increasingly recognized that conventional
programs in speech and hearing disorders
do not qualify their graduates for sophisticated management
of foreign dialects. Since interaction between
the structural system of a native language and that of
an acquired language is the primary basis of a foreign
dialect, an understanding of the linguistic structures
involved is essential. If basic principles of linguistics
were included in instruction in speech and hearing
science, however, then those working in this field
would be qualified to work with a person who speaks
a foreign language natively. Those properly trained in
speech and hearing science have a knowledge of the
function of the vocal mechanism which is of considerable
value in language instruction. The study
and cataloging of dialects is, of course, a natural and
also a necessary interest to anyone concerned with
basic speech processes and their associated disorders.

Basic Hearing Science

Basic Hearinc Science. The anatomy, physiology,
and biochemistry of the ear are among the essential
aspects of hearing science. Psychophysics and auditory
perception are related fields of special interest.
While there are a few notable exceptions, most of
those who have made contributions to the various
aspects of basic hearing science have not been closely
associated with the American Speech and Hearing
Association. The active study of basic hearing science
would require vigorous support if it were to be developed
within the organizational structure of Speech
and Hearing Science. Only experts with an appropriate
training in such areas as chemistry, acoustics,
electrical engineering, and neurophysiology can expect
to make basic contributions to this field. It is
these same experts who should give the basic instruction
in the anatomy and physiology of the ear
for those who study in the field of speech and hearing
science. A much deeper understanding and appreciation
of the area must be in evidence, however,
if the instructional and research services of such
scientists are to be obtained.

Hearing Disorders

Hearing Disorders. We believe it is fair to observe
that there is only limited interest in the basic
structures and functions involved in audition among
those who have worked on speech and hearing disorders.
However, a thorough knowledge of the anatomy,
mechanics, and neurophysiology of the hearing
apparatus is essential to any clear understanding of
auditory disorders. The basic principles and techniques
of psychophysics are equally essential to the
field. It is, indeed, unfortunate that those working in
the field which is now often identified as audiology
have not placed more emphasis upon the basic
methodologies of psychophysics and the findings
therefrom. Few have been able to make important
contributions to clinical procedures in the field. Without
a reasonably good understanding of the elementary
principles of physical acoustics, and of the ear and
its associated physiology, significant contribution to
clinical procedures in the field can hardly be expected.
Obviously, information about the pathologies of the
ear must come primarily from medical scientists. The
time is here when a greatly increased knowledge of
the biochemistry of the ear is essential. It is likely
that those wishing to understand much of the future
research on hearing disorders will require at least an
elementary background in chemistry.

Speech and Hearing Research

As we see it, the academic and administrative
recognition of speech and hearing science as a discipline
would be a major step toward providing a proper
environment in which to stimulate more effective
basic research in the field. It is quality of research,
not quantity, which requires stronger support. Students
interested in careers in speech and hearing
should be encouraged to obtain a broad background
in the relevant physical and biological sciences.

Instruction and the advancement of knowledge are
the essence of a university. But a university cannot
endure on either of these functions alone, and more
importantly a department or program cannot maintain
242leadership if it is devoted exclusively to teaching.
A basic discipline must underlie the program, and
there must be attention to the advancement of knowledge
through research in that basic discipline as well
as attention to instruction in its techniques. One who
would only teach, without attempting to conduct research,
soon finds that what he has to teach is out of
date and out of purpose. Through teaching, however,
the research scientist is given the opportunity, in fact
he is forced, to attempt to organize his knowledge. He
is challenged by students who have studied the recent
advances in other fields. There is a resulting
interdisciplinary force imposed on any one discipline,
and there is a consequent reward to research interests
that makes teaching of great importance to those who
would advance the frontiers of knowledge.


Perhaps the problem of a name has long been
resolved. Our professional organization is very appropriately
the American Speech and Hearing Association.
The discipline might well be designated Speech
and Hearing Science. We do not believe that a single
word must be found for the name of the Association
or the discipline. Many fields are appropriately
designated by more complicated terms, such as Political
Sciences, Electrical Engineering, and Internal
Medicine. There are other more basic problems about
which this Association should be concerned.

Those attempting to develop new disciplines are
incessantly afflicted with confusion about them. One
such confusion is that it is necessary to be able to
define the discipline clearly. Ask a senior mathematician,
physicist, or zoologist to define his field. If
he tries at all, the result will have many reservations
and conditions imposed upon it. Another common
confusion is the conception that a discipline is unified.
If one considers the relation of academic specialties
critically, associations often emerge that originally
seem highly remote. Thus speech and hearing
science is peripheral to many other disciplines as
other disciplines are peripheral to it.

But within the field of speech and hearing science
there are many subdivisions, all of which are related.
These subdivisions are not only related to each other,
but they are related to subdivisions of other disciplines.
If one examines the multitude of subjects
which lie within the study of basic speech and hearing
science and speech and hearing disorders, however,
it is clear that there is a large group of related subdisciplines
which could very effectively stand together
within the university curriculum, often to the
benefit of all concerned.

The fact that there are many ways to organize a
university curriculum is being increasingly recognized
by university administrators. Those concerned
with academic programs are becoming increasingly
daring in realigning subdisciplines for more effective
teaching and research. The relationships among the
disciplines are receiving greater attention. Many fields
are involved in minor or major reorganization. The
basic speech and hearing sciences and disorders are
caught in the problems of this reorganization. It seems
clear that if the results are to be effective and enduring,
those working in this field must make a firm
commitment to a basic discipline.


This article presents the view that speech and
hearing science may be considered a separate discipline.
The discipline is concerned with the scientific
study of the many different aspects of both normal
and abnormal speech and hearing. The scientific
study of normal speech and hearing processes is basic
to the study of speech and hearing disorders. The
field of speech and hearing science includes the study
of basic speech science, speech disorders, basic hearing
science, and hearing disorders. The field is primarily
concerned with fundamental principles and
its study should be located within a College of Arts
and Sciences.


This manuscript was prepared at the suggestion of
a group interested in the place of speech and hearing
science in the American Speech and Hearing Association.
The authors assume full responsibility for the
views presented here, but they would like to acknowledge
the following members of the Association who
originally suggested the preparation of the manuscript:
Donald Dew, Harry Holtien, James F. Jerger,
Edwin W. Martin, Paul Moore, Richard L. Schiefelbusch,
Ronald S. Tikofsky, and Joseph Wepman.243

1** Reprinted from the Journal of the American Speech and Hearing Association, Vol. 5, 1963, pp. 539-43.

2* Gordon E. Peterson, Ph.D., is Professor of Communication
Sciences, Director of the Communication Sciences Laboratory,
and Chairman of the Program in Communication
Sciences at The University of Michigan. Grant Fairbanks,
Ph.D., is Director of Research, Subcommittee on Noise Research
Center, the Committee on Conservation of Hearing of
the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology,
Los Angeles Foundation of Otology, and Adjunct Professor of
Psychology at the University of Southern California.