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Keys to Communication

Child reaching

Photo courtesy of Linda Watson

"Of all the gifts bestowed upon humanity, the ability to communicate is one of the most important. Any impairment of this ability can have far–reaching consequences, affecting every aspect of a person’s life, from learning, to work to interactions with family, friends, and community. Audiologists and speechlanguage pathologists provide services to prevent, diagnose, evaluate and treat communication disorders."
-American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the UNC Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences (DSHS), the UNC Health Sciences Library and the DSHS have collaborated to present an exhibit highlighting the activities of speech and hearing professionals, with an emphasis on the specialty areas of UNC faculty. A physical exhibit is on display in the entrance foyer of the Health Sciences Library, and is complemented by an online exhibit with enhanced content, including videotaped interviews and links to resources on the web.

The exhibit covers the various activities of speech-language pathologists and audiologists, as well as brief histories of the speech and hearing professions. In keeping with the anniversary theme, the exhibit gives an overview of the development of the DSHS, with commentary from Bob Peters, the first Division Director. Descriptions of the division’s programs include insights from current students and alumni.

A special feature is the display of selected items from the hearing aid collection of DSHS Director, Jack Roush, showing the development of hearing aids over time from early ear trumpets to modern cochlear implants. The audiology portion of the exhibit includes various hearing equipment from special phones to Bluetooth devices and other modern hearing aids. Information on screening for hearing loss and ways to prevent hearing loss are included, with a model of the ear and explanation of how hearing works.

Each section of the exhibit provides examples of the activities of the DSHS faculty in research, teaching, and practice. Initiatives include:

  • creating literacy materials for Head Start programs
  • developing alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices
  • researching best practices for teaching autistic children
  • helping people with neurogenic disorders to express and achieve goals for functional living
  • showing Mongolian teachers how to establish a democratic learning environment for their students
  • establishing bilingual language development programs
  • participating in international programs, including teaching in Guatemala and hearing screening at the Special Olympics
  • conducting genetic research in Fragile X syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disabilities.

The ‘Keys to Communication’ exhibit offers insights from the patient’s perspective as well as the professional’s to provide a deeper understanding of how essential communication is to our everyday lives, and how the services of speech and hearing professionals help make that communication possible.