Western Michigan University student patents device to help with speech impediments

Posted at 2:53 PM, Feb 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-13 17:40:38-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – A Western Michigan University student, who was bullied for years for the way he spoke, created a new device to help with his own speech. Now he is marketing his enunciation tool and growing his start-up business, Speech Master Pro.

Daniel Floyd is a WMU sophomore who grew up with a speech impediment, but he turned it into a challenge. In January he received his design patent for his speaking device and has been selling it since he was a high school senior.

"I always had a speech impediment, an articulation disorder, which limited my ability to communicate,” said Floyd. “Throughout school I'd been teased and bullied because of my speech."

Between six and eight million people in the United States have some form of language impairment, according to the National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Studies also show by the first grade about five percent of children have noticeable speech disorders.

Picked on because of the way he talked, Floyd said he saw a speech therapist for as long as he can remember. Yet, he wanted to find a new tool he could use to practice speaking at home; a tool to build confidence.

"I was always searching for a device, or any type of tool I could use, to help improve my speech, and I couldn't find anything,” said Floyd.

First, he carved out an old wine cork and practiced talking after putting the cork between his teeth. "It helps improve your enunciation skills, slow down your speaking pace, and strengthen your facial muscles, and help you give you more confidence as a speaker,” said Floyd.

As a junior in high school he took his idea to a product development firm who took his idea and turned it into his prototype device. By his senior year, Floyd said he sold his first enunciation device and launched his company, Speech Master Pro.

Now as a college student, Floyd said before he gives a speech in front of his class, he stands in front of a mirror with speech in my hand and device in his mouth, and practices his speech.

Floyd said he plans to build his start-up and other businesses.

And to anyone who is bullied for the way they talk, Floyd said see a speech therapist if you can, and move forward. "It's not always going to be easy; just stay strong, stay tough, just persevere,” said Floyd.

Floyd has his design patent for his device, and is waiting for utility patent in the meantime.

For more information on his enunciation tool and his company, see the Speech Master Pro website.