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January 12, 2009

ULM Speech and Hearing Clinic gets new look in New Year

The Speech and Hearing Clinic at the University of Louisiana at Monroe has evaluated and treated clients of all ages with a variety of communication challenges for more than 40 years.

Accommodations to serve those clients will be greatly expanded and improved when a new, state-of-the-art Speech and Hearing “Center” opens in the spring on the first floor of Sugar Hall.

Graduate student clinicians supervised by nationally certified and state licensed speech-language pathology faculty will continue to provide services in the Speech-Language Pathology Clinic. Hearing evaluations will be provided by the audiologist in the Audiology Clinic.

“The added space will enable us to improve the patient care environment for individuals with all kinds of communication needs such as articulation, language, voice, fluency, swallowing, and hearing,” said Johanna Boult, Ph.D., interim department head and program director. “And our students will continue to receive a top-notch clinical education, in a top-notch facility.”

The new facility includes eight individual therapy rooms, a large group therapy room, a research lab, a student clinical preparation room, and an audiology suite, according to Donna Thomas, director of clinical services.

One of the new features allows supervisors, family members, and students to observe sessions from private observation rooms that are connected to each individual therapy room, said Thomas. In addition, video observation capabilities will be available in each therapy room for the purpose of supervision.

The facility was conceived under the direction of Dr. Paxton Oliver (former department head and assistant dean of the College of Health Sciences), and was entered into the planning stages under Judy Fellows, Ph.D., who became department head after Oliver.

Boult assumed management over the Center’s construction in August.

“I’m grateful the recent and drastic budget cuts will not affect construction at the center,” said Boult. “However, the budget for the furnishings, with the expansion of the Center, has been severely limited.”

Funds are needed to purchase items such as therapy tables and chairs, waiting room furniture and wall decorations, as well as construction of faculty offices. Lab space is also on hold pending contributions from outside sources, said Boult.

The current clinic handles, on average, over 400 screenings and diagnostic evaluations and 4000 hours of therapy for children and adults in the community each year.

“But we have probably done over 550 screenings just this semester for university and community constituents,” said Thomas. “So we’re really growing!”

The new Speech and Hearing Center is not the only innovation as last summer the department changed its name from Communicative Disorders to Speech-Language Pathology.

“Speech-Language Pathology reflects the name change that most SLP programs have gone to across the country,” explained Denny Ryman, dean of the College of Health Sciences.

“The name change is a truer reflection of what we are and what we do,” added Thomas.

More information about gift and naming opportunities for the Center is available at:

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