CSD receives grant to improve quality of life for those with unique communication needs

Penn State's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD), in collaboration with Oregon Health and Science University, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and InvoTek, has been awarded a grant for a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (RERC on AAC) from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

The grant, which provides approximately $5 million of funding over a five-year period, consists of four components: research, development, training and dissemination, said principal investigator Janice Light, who holds the Hintz Family Endowed Chair in Children’s Communicative Competence. David McNaughton, professor of special education, will lead the training and dissemination activities.

“We were the only Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center funded on Rehabilitation Strategies, Techniques and Interventions,” Light said. “We are really excited about the research, development, training and dissemination activities that we have planned and the new collaborations that we will be building, both in house at Penn State with the College of Engineering and the College of Information Sciences and Technology, as well as nationwide with other leading research centers. This is an incredible opportunity to advance the field and improve outcomes for children and adults with the most complex communication needs.”

Read more about the grant for a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

Group recognizes professor for work on House bill

Ingrid Blood advocated for Medicare coverage of telehealth services provided by audiologists, speech-language pathologists

Ingrid Blood, professor of communication sciences and disorders (CSD) at Penn State, has been recognized by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Political Action (ASHA) Committee for her advocacy on the Telehealth Bill.

ASHA's Federal and Political Affairs department organizes meetings with members of Congress and their staffs for special interest groups and committee members visiting the national office while they are in the greater Washington, D.C., area. The purpose is for ASHA members to lobby on behalf of ASHA's legislative priorities and to build relationships with those offices. Blood, who visited in June, advocated for Medicare coverage of telehealth services provided by audiologists and speech-language pathologists.

Recently, Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) introduced the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2014 (H.R. 5380) which would allow audiologists and speech-language pathologists to get reimbursed by Medicare for providing telehealth services to beneficiaries. ASHA staff were informed by Congressional staff that Blood's advocacy on the subject is why the piece was added to the legislation. Read more about Ingrid Blood's advocacy on the Telehealth Bill.

CSD Team Poster Award Recipients

Congratulations to Jennifer Thistle, Ji Young Na, CSD Professor Krista Wilkinson, Lisa Catanoso, Rebecca Keyes, Hilary Lee, and Melissa Wenzel for their award winning poster submission. The team submitted a poster titled “Preferential Attention Patterns to Humans vs. Animals: Implications for Photograph-Based AAC Displays” which was designated a Meritorious Poster Submission for the 2014 ASHA Convention to be held in November. The Meritorious Poster Submission recognition is for proposals judged by the Convention Program Committee to show extraordinary, exceptional, and innovative work. Each Topic Committee has the option of recommending one or two top-rated posters for this special distinction. The committee received 1611 total poster submissions in 2014, and only 55 were selected for meritorious recognition. This poster is among those posters that received the highest ratings from Topic Committee reviewers across both submission categories of professional education and research.

New Laboratory Facilities

A sound-attenuated booth has been installed in the basement of Ford Building. The booth will house equipment for electroencephalography (EEG) and auditory evoked potentials (AEP), allowing researchers and clinicians to measure brain responses to sounds and other stimuli. EEG and AEP methods provide insight into the brain activity underlying speech, language, and hearing processes. For more information, please contact Dr. Carol Miller.

The Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic helps people face communication challenges

Trip. Fall. Crash. Smash.

When Terri Foster's face slammed into the dresser at the nursing home where she worked, her life changed forever. The blow injured the frontal lobe of her brain, leaving her forgetful, depressed and barely able to communicate.

A year later, Foster still could not function. She lost her job as a nurse's aide, she was unable to do simple chores at home and her stuttering prevented her from having meaningful conversations. Her family suffered too. Her husband mourned the loss of the woman he had married, and her 10-year-old son couldn't understand why his mom never wanted to get out of bed.

Foster knew she needed help, but she wasn't getting it from doctors. It wasn't until she began therapy at the Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic within the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders that she truly began to heal.

According to Gordon Blood, professor and head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, the clinic provides assessments and interventions for people with delays or disorders in hearing, language, fluency, voice, articulation and phonology, including those with severe speech impairments requiring augmentative and alternative communication. Such communication impairments, he said, may result from developmental delays, congenital disabilities such as mental retardation, hearing impairment, autism, cerebral palsy or acquired disabilities such as traumatic brain injury, strokes or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The clinic also provides an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to get hands-on experience as well as a laboratory for faculty members to conduct research.

Read more about the Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic.

CSD Faculty Member & Graduate Students Present at PSHA

Dr. Jimin Lee, assistant professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and two graduate students attended the Pennsylvania Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention April 2-5, 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA and presented posters. Dr. Lee and Julianna Sincavage presented Coordination Between Tongue and Lower Lip in /w/ Production. Dr. Lee and Robyn Dalton presented Issues With Vocal Tract Length in Acoustic and Kinematic Data. For more information about the convention, please see the PSHA website,

Julianna Sincavage with Dr. Ji Min Lee

Julianna Sincavage with Dr. Ji Min Lee

Robyn Dalton with Dr. Ji Min Lee

Robyn Dalton with Dr. Ji Min Lee

CSD Student to Serve as College Marshal

Congratulations to CSD major and Schreyer Scholar Jeanna Stiadle, who will represent all graduating students in the College of Health and Human Development as student marshal at the Spring 2014 commencement ceremonies. Congratulations as well to Ashleigh Marella, also a Schreyer Scholar, who has been selected as the student marshal for Communication Sciences and Disorders. Dr. Carol Miller will serve as the Faculty Marshal.

Wilkinson named editor of American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology

Krista Wilkinson

Krista Wilkinson, professor of communication sciences and disorders

Krista Wilkinson, professor of communication sciences and disorders at Penn State, has been named editor of the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (AJSLP). The mission of AJSLP, which has been online-only since 2010, is to report peer-reviewed, primary research findings concerning an array of clinically oriented topics transcending all aspects of clinical practice in speech-language pathology.

Wilkinson’s research focuses on language development, and augmentative and alternative communication intervention in individuals with severe intellectual/developmental disabilities. In much of her early work, she examined how vocabulary instruction can be improved through an understanding of processes of early word learning in children with and without disabilities.

Read more about Wilkinson being named editor of American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.