Samual G. Fletcher

Dr. Samuel Fletcher, Ph.D CCC-SLP AuD, dedicated his distinguished 50+ years teaching career to assisting children and adults with communication disorders through the development of computer based technologies. Most notable of Dr. Fletcher’s inventions include the Nasometer (measures nasality in speech) and the Palatometer or “SmartPalate” (displays dynamic tongue-to-palate contact). Dr. Fletcher passed away December 19, 2018, but the work he pursued still moves forward.

My dream has been to find ways to help fill gaps in understanding how best to help… in out field, in our lives, in our hopes, and in our loves. The principle is if a need is great enough and important enough, other dreamers will join the search for solutions. Dreams are the food for discovery.
Samual G. Fletcher, ASHA 2007

Career Acheivements:

  • Elementary and secondary school English teacher & Principal
  • M.S. degrees in Speech Pathology, Audiology & Anatomy (1957)
  • Doctorate degree with distinction; University of Utah (1958)
  • Created first University program to be accredited for speech & audiology in western United States (Utah State University)
  • Directed the Speech, Audiology and/or BioCommunication departments at Universities in Utah, New Mexico and Alabama
  • Authored or co-authored 4 technical reports, 6 books, 15 textbook chapters and over 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals
  • Awarded “Honors of the Association” by American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recognizing contributions to speech & hearing science (2007) Founded CompleteSpeech (2008)

Dr. Fletcher dedicated his life to developing computer based technology that could help turn phonetic actions into visual as well as aural patterns. During his 56 years of teaching and research he conceptualized a number of instruments, including the palatometer, nasometer, and an acoustic analyzer for normal and abnormal speech assessment and remediation.

During his teaching career he guided technical teams in Utah, New Mexico and Alabama in developing and validating these instruments for their experimental and clinical utility for Speech and Language Pathology. The teams efforts were rewarded by speech clinicians being able to serve children and adults with deafness, palatal clefts, speech articulation, swallowing, neurological and other communication disorders. These scientific innovations translated into practical applications. The biological complexities of communication normality and disorders could now be exposed and unraveled with assessment, remediation and self esteem raised. The dream to be able to document, differentiate, and change communicative disorders was being realized through this new >assistive technology.

Dr. Fletcher served in the Office of Naval Intelligence, completed his B.S. degree at Utah State University, taught elementary and secondary school children in Idaho and Utah, and served as a principal. He received his M.S. in speech pathology, audiology and anatomy from the University of Utah in 1957 and his doctoral degree “with distinction” in 1958. During his pre- and postgraduate training he served as a research fellow in the University of Utah’s Pediatrics department then as a U.S. Public Health Service postdoctoral and special research fellow at the University of Oregon Medical Center. During his fellowships he was uncomfortable with the need to judge nasality perceptually and took the first steps toward developing the nasometer.

In 1962 Dr. Fletcher was appointed Associate Professor of Speech and Director of the Speech and Hearing Center at Utah State University and developed a new Audiology-Speech Pathology department. In 1968 he became the Director of Speech Pathology and Audiology at the University of New Mexico then in 1970 moved to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Medical Center. There he served as Professor and Chair of the new department of Biocommunication which he helped form. He also served as Director of the Biocommunication Research Lab in the UAB Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. During this time, he was the principal investigator on a number of research grants. These endeavors led to four U.S. patents, patents pending and several others in the planning stage. Dr. Fletcher has authored or co-authored four technical reports, six books, 15 chapters in various books, and more than 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented seminars to many professional groups and associations. Currently, he is a Professor Emeritus at UAB, a Permanent Visiting Professor at the University of Indonesia School of Medicine, and an Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Dr. Fletcher served as a journal and NIH reviewer on topics dealing with normal and abnormal speech, swallowing structure and function, oral anatomy and physiology, and instruments and procedures for speech pathology assessment and modification. He also received numerous science and clinical honors and awards and appointments to various panels, advisory committees and boards, and has been listed in American Men & Women of Science, Who’s Who in Technology Today, etc. Additionally, he was elected as president of the Utah and the Alabama Speech and Hearing Associations. He was recognized as the Featured Scientist for a PBS documentary, called “Discover the World of Science,” that focused on using the new palatometer and procedures he had developed to teach speech to deaf children. He is now a Fellow in ASHA and is receiving Honors of the Association.

Dr. Fletcher founded CompleteSpeech to fulfill his dream for a better way to assist countless individuals in overcoming the burdens of speech impairment. FAST works to bring these benefits to those who are unable to help themselves. You can help his life’s work continue, by providing a charitable donation to FAST. These funds directly allow individuals access to the research and technologies developed by Dr. Fletcher.