November 9, 2020

Senior Researcher Profile – Samuel Atcherson, Ph.D.

Samuel R. Atcherson, Ph.D., professor for the Doctor of Audiology program is a nationally-recognized leader, scholar, mentor, and educator in the field of audiology. As a person with lifelong hearing loss from childhood, Dr. Atcherson’s areas of interest and expertise include broad strokes across 1) audiologic rehabilitation, 2) auditory electrophysiology, and 3) health literacy.

In the area of audiologic rehabilitation, Dr. Atcherson uses a combination of approaches to mitigate the negative effects of hearing loss or auditory processing disorders. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, current efforts have focused on the concern with various face coverings (masks and shields) and the impact on communication for individuals with and without normal hearing, while maintaining a safe social distance. The first issue is the loss of visual cues by non-transparent masks for those who rely on lipreading and other facial cues. The second issue is the reduction of overall speech sound volume caused by different materials and the shapes of shields (which in worst cases can make people with normal hearing feel as if they have a mild hearing loss!). In the current recommendation to maintain safe distancing and to wear masks, it may help to speak up, use a sound amplifier (with microphone placed close to your mouth), and/or use automatic speech recognition (ASR) software or apps.

In the area of auditory electrophysiology, Dr. Atcherson focuses mostly on clinically-available evoked potentials systems and their use in individuals with and without hearing, auditory processing, and balance disorders. A recent clinical research project by Dr. Atcherson and colleagues involves the review of evidence-based practices and the clinical efficacy of those practices with vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) recordings superior semi-circular canal dehiscence (SSCD) and related vestibular disorders.

In the area of health literacy, Dr. Atcherson and his colleagues (many of whom are current and former students) have evaluated the readability and accessibility of numerous questionnaires, surveys, and consumer materials used by audiologists and speech-language pathologists when working with patients who have communication-related disorders. Overwhelmingly, most materials are written at a reading grade level far higher than the average 8th grade reading level of adults in the U.S. This has implications for patients and for the healthcare system in terms of accuracy of diagnosis and health outcomes.

To date, Dr. Atcherson has published 54 peer-­reviewed articles, 53 non-refereed articles, 3 textbooks, 22 invited book chapters, 2 book reviews, and a Letter to the Editor (in the coveted Science journal). Currently, he has 2 textbook contracts with Thieme Medical Publishers (2nd ed. of Auditory Electrophysiology: A Clinical Guide and 3rd ed. of Audiology: Diagnosis). He has given, or contributed to, over 200 presentations/posters/panels (including 5 keynote presentations and has been awarded nearly $200,000 in grant funding for both intramural and NIH projects.

Download Dr. Atcherson's CV