Congratulations ASHAsphere Blogger Kenneth Staub!

ASHAsphere is proud to announce that Kenneth Staub, M.S., CCC-SLP, was won one of The Stuttering Foundation’s 2011 Awards for Excellence in Journalism. His ASHAsphere post about The King’s Speech, won third place in the Internet Blog category. What a great achievement for Kenneth–an SLP–to be recognized alongside professional journalists from the likes of CNN! We’re proud to have him on ASHAsphere!

Bolivia Bound

Market in Bolivia


This month, for the sixth year in a row, 16 master’s students from Teachers College Columbia University and four ASHA-certified SLPs travel to La Paz, Bolivia to provide free services to children with disabilities. The non-native Spanish speakers arrive a week early (May 22) for intensive Spanish classes at Instituto Exclusivo in La Paz. The next weekend (May 28) the six native Spanish speaking students and four ASHA-certified SLPs arrive. Beginning on May 31 and for the next three weeks, the students provide assessment and intervention services and offer workshops for parents, teachers, PTs, and doctors. The SLP students and the supervisors participate in an academic seminar to integrate their experiences with readings on anthropology, religion, politics, and educational policy.

Please follow our trip blog for what we hope will be an extraordinary journey. We would especially like to hear your comments.

Catherine (Cate) Crowley, J.D., Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a lecturer in the program of SLP at Teachers College Columbia University where she coordinates the bilingual/multicultural program focus and directs the Bilingual Extension Institute. Cate has led TC students to Bolivia each year for five years and to Ghana for the past three years. She is on the steering committee of ASHA’s SIG 17 Global Issues in Communication Disorders.

Technology’s Emerging Frontier in Speech-Language Pathology, Part 1

landscape with mountains

Photo by Panegyrics of Granovetter

For my culminating experience I have been working on a project about the history of technology in education and in speech-language pathology. The current trends of technology were also something I considered during this project. As part of the “final product” of my project I wanted to share the experiences I have had, some information I have gathered, and some of the resources I have compiled throughout the school year.

As we all have seen, and some of us experienced, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of technology in today’s classrooms and throughout education. However, there has been a more noticeable increase in mainstream media attention around the hottest new pieces of technology. But for the first time mainstream technology is beginning to gain more popularity in the education setting, such as iPads and iPods. Technology has been consistently a part of education since it was introduced decades ago, but not until recently has there been such an exciting time to learn about and begin utilizing this new technology.

It is important for graduate student clinicians and practicing speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to be aware of what technology and resources are currently available for several reasons:

  1. Technology is rapidly changing and growing, which means staying up-to-date is important to keep engagement and motivation high for the students you are working with
  2. Exposing students to new and different technologies while working towards language and/or speech goals will help children adapt to a future involving continued use of technology. These students will grow up and face a world that will have entirely new professions and a new set of problems to solve just as the current generation is working to solve problems created from previous generations. The challenge now becomes to prepare students “. . . for a world that has yet be created, for jobs yet be invented, and for technologies yet undreamed” (Molebash, 1999 [PDF]). This is a similar idea to what a quarterback does. A quarterback does not throw the ball to where the receiver is located but instead anticipates where the receiver will be and throws the ball there. So too SLPs and other educators need to anticipate what the future has in store for current students and do our best to prepare them for what is to come.

School-based SLPs have a unique opportunity in that they have access to a growing number of children on their caseload. The use of technology can aid in the efficiency of treatment of speech/language disorders by keeping the attention and motivation of the students. It is especially important for SLPs to keep an eye on the ever-growing technology because the technology that is devoted to speech and language development is just beginning. Similar to other areas of rapid technology development, I expect that specific technology that is useful to school-based SLPs to rapidly grow. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

With such rapid acceleration of technology development there is a limitless number of directions that will develop in technology. However, knowing what the new technology will be or in which directions they can lead us is not only impossible but unimportant. “It is the recognition of what is possible that educators must consider” (Molebash, 1999). The future is an inevitable reality, of which we either adapt to or resist, but that we have the power to “envisage and take action to build alternative and desirable futures” (Facer & Sandford, 2010).

I recently had a practicum experience student teaching at an elementary school where my supervisor had a grant accepted for two iPads to use during treatment. I was fortunate enough to be there and help implement these new tools with the students. There were not many apps to start with, but from my perspective the students responded very well to using the iPad when coming to the speech room. What I found most interesting was that these young students had already experienced technology like this or similar to iPads such as an iPhone or Android and other smart phones. The familiarity they had around technology like this was impressive. One group working on language goals, particularly wh-questions at that time, were all standing around the iPad reading through the questions together and excitedly waited their turns. That experience provided a great learning opportunity for me and demonstrated the effectiveness that technology can have.

Even throughout this school year while working on this project I have noticed changes in how SLPs use technology. There are continuously more and more blogs reviewing different treatment apps and exchanging therapy ideas with one another. ASHAsphere in particular is a great resource for the profession and provides a great opportunity for graduate students as well as practicing professionals to contribute bits and pieces of our interests and expertise. I have compiled a short annotated list of resources I have come across that can serve as a good starting off point to incorporating technology into practice, which will be posted next week on ASHAsphere. You will find, as I did, that one website will lead to another, which will lead to another, and so on. The list I have compiled are some of my favorite that I have found to date, and will continually update throughout my career. While gathering information for my resource list I noticed the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has a new technology page for school-based clinicians all about the pros and cons of new technology. Additionally, ASHA provides a few insurance funding resources. It is exciting to see the acknowledgement of and transition towards the inevitable future of a world filled with technology.

I believe the next step for ASHA is to develop some guidelines for technology use across settings and ages, specifically the current media technology that seems to be picking up momentum. ASHA sets guidelines for many aspects of the profession and current technology guidelines is the next step. These guidelines should describe ways to evaluate and determine the quality of speech and language apps that are continually being developed. The number of apps specific to our profession, as well as apps that can have specific uses toward achieving student objectives is constantly growing. With this growth there should be a systematic way of evaluating the use and effectiveness of the apps.

Technology is an exciting new tool for speech-language pathologists to use but we need to remember that language is social. “If an iPad helps a child share a smile with their parent, a shared moment of attention, attachment and engagement – that is a good thing. The tech device is just a therapy tool of gaining a child’s attention. It is only with joint attention that more opportunities for interaction can occur” (Bratti, 2010).

This has been a fascinating journey and I am excited to see what the future has in store.

Michael Tanner, BS, is a graduate student at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. With the support of his wife and family he is preparing to graduate in June and begin his career as a school-based SLP in the Fall.

Summer Reading Part 2: Interacting with ASHA Journals on iPad

In last week’s post, I discussed how to access ASHA Journals on the web and how to stay connected to current publications by viewing abstracts in Google Reader.

The iPad is obviously a hugely popular device whose potential, I think, we are just beginning to glimpse.  So when the iPad is added to this mix, what do professional development and research look like? How can the iPad move us past printing and marking up journal articles (for me at least, I haven’t really processed something unless I have marked it up) and into digital learning and collaboration?

In the following video, I demonstrate on the iPad how to:

  • Use Safari to browse and read journals (pretty much the same steps as our last post, but more fingers-on)!*
  • Save journal articles to iBooks for later reading and organization into collections.*
  • Annotate journal articles in iAnnotate PDF using the highlighting, underlining, drawing, and text annotation tools.
  • Share your annotations with colleagues for collaboration and research.

*Note: these two steps work the same way for iPhone/iPod Touch!  iAnnotate PDF is iPad-only, but GoodReader is a similarly well-regarded (and a bit cheaper) app that has different versions for all iDevices.

View the video on YouTube

This has been a fun process for me, learning about Journals 2.0. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have!


Sean J. Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and instructional technology specialist working in the public school and in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He has presented on the topic of technology integration in speech and language at the ASHA convention and is the author of the blog SpeechTechie: Looking at Technology Through a Language Lens.

Confessions of an SLP During Better Hearing and Speech Month

Better hearing and speech month logo

May is “Better Hearing and Speech” month. As a professional, it’s an exciting time for me to share my passion to increase awareness about communication sciences and disorders. I have loved every moment of seeing articles, hearing radio interviews and also listening to TV personalities talk about fluency disorders after watching The King’s Speech. Fabulous!

But, I confess that I have an ulterior motive. I am a speech-language pathologist. I am confident in my ability to diagnose and intervene with communication disorders. My first love in the field was working with aphasics in the hospital to help them remember that they have a voice. My professional path led me to working in the schools with children to help them find their voice. I love this field. I don’t think that I was too bad at it either. I loved clinical practice.

My first confession is that I don’t need to go anywhere to practice. Both of my children and my husband all have a communication disorder, of some sort. My husband is a person who stutters. He received services in the schools as a child. He isn’t often disfluent. Only when he is anxious or when very tired. My daughter has some pragmatic differences secondary to ADHD. She needs reminders not to isolate herself and to talk to others. My son has been receiving articulation and language intervention since he was two. At two, he had a few words, but his connected speech consisted of one almost word: “biggum”. He would excitedly tell me about his day with perfect prosody using “biggum” over and over again. I had no clue what he was saying. He is going into 7th grade next year. The only thing left on his IEP is very stubborn distorted vocalic r.

My next confession is that I couldn’t fix them. As much success I felt as a professional, I felt like a failure as a mother and as a wife. My days are filled with intervention tips and tricks. I have tried everything that I know how to do, yet they all still struggle with communication. It was very difficult as a young mother and wife. Now that I am slightly more seasoned, I have come to look at the strengths that come with it. I can very much relate to the parents that I speak to. I know what their nights are like when their children can’t follow one step direction. Although, universally, I will say that they really do understand “Clean your room” and “Do your homework” after the first 100 times you ask. That’s just choice. But, I know the tears and the frustrations. I know the exhaustion. I know the prayers that you have to just help your loved ones be able to express themselves.

For years, I thought that I failed them. I felt that they were worse despite of all of training and expertise. A very wise person reminded that maybe they are better because of my training and expertise. May be the patience and love that I can provide them helps them be more confident to try the techniques taught to them by other professionals, their SLPs.

So, as your colleague, I appreciate and value the work that we do together to advance ASHA’s vision of making effective communication, a human right, accessible and achievable for all. As a parent, from the bottom of my heart, I value the work that you do to help my family find their voice.

Andrea “Deedee” Moxley, CCC-SLP, is Associate Director for Multicultural Resources at ASHA. She worked at Montgomery County Public Schools prior to coming to the National Office. Deedee is responsible for responding to technical assistance questions, developing resources for working with diverse populations and co-managing the S.T.E.P. Mentoring Program. Her areas of interest include cultural competence, bilingualism and health literacy.