Friday, October 26, 2007

Enhancing communication

Filed under UF Voices on October 9, 2007.

Chris SapienzaWhen asked what I do, sometimes I wish my reply could be that I were an astrophysicist or electrical engineer. I am a speech-language pathologist - a profession that few people understand. Even more confusing is that the department which I chair is called Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD). So with every response to “What do you do?” I am met with a befuddled look simply because most people are unfamiliar with this discipline.

But, this is OK because as the conversation continues, I can elaborate on my professional story and boast about my department’s accomplishments. For instance, the CSD at UF is ranked 7th in the field of audiology and 17th in the field of speech-language pathology. These two disciplines within CSD are staffed by internationally renowned faculty who are dedicated researchers and clinicians. Their work as professors and instructors in hearing, speech, and language sciences and rehabilitation offers excellent opportunities for students who have interest in the vast array of clinical disorders, including reading disabilities, autism, aphasia, Parkinson’s disease, stuttering and hearing loss.

With millions of dollars in grant money, most recently from the National Institutes of Health and the Michael J. Fox Foundation, we study the intricate processes of speech production and how disease alters the multiple systems involved in communication. We have helped from the likes of small children who can’t read with the help of the Scottish Rite Organization, to well- known personalities, such as Muhammad Ali and the late Christopher Reeve.

Most importantly, CSD works to assist our community by offering exceptional education to our students, clinical services to people in need, and research collaboration with our colleagues, to enhance the quality of life for those with communication disorders. Our goal is to push the limits of science to find more effective ways to help all persons with hearing, speech, and language disorders communicate as effectively as possible.

Christine Sapienza, Chair