For the last three years, the Department of Communication Disorders at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) has had an ongoing academic and professional relationship with the Universidad del Valle de Orizaba (UniVO) in Mexico.
Raquel Strauss, M.S., CCC-SLP, the Director of the Bilingual Program in the Department of Communication Disorders, with support from NCCU’s Office of International Affairs, established a study abroad program in 2006 for graduate students who wanted a richer professional bilingual experience. In 2007 and again in 2008, the Department sent ten speech-language graduate students to work in several practicum settings in Orizaba to take an advanced course in Spanish at UniVO, and to engage in research related to their theses or internship obligations.
The Bilingual Program at NCCU offers bilingual course work in speech-language pathology, a sequence of Spanish courses for health professionals, and a Spanish-only practicum on site. The combination of this rigorous course of study, along with the practicum in Mexico, leads to a certificate in bilingual speech-language pathology.
The incentive for this certificate and training program lies in the need for proficient bilingual practitioners in the state of North Carolina. Over seven percent of the state now speaks Spanish. Some counties are more heavily populated with Spanish-speaking inhabitants than others; viz., Durham, Mecklenburg, and Wake. There are few bilingual speech-language pathologists in the state. NCCU takes the lead amongst the graduate programs in the state in training its students to become proficient linguistically and culturally in order to help this new population.
Economic Hard Times lead to Creative Utilization of Technology
This summer, 2009, we were not able to send students because of financial constraints. However, we continued to develop our relationship with UniVO by means of a bilingual teleconference on autism. Thomas L. Layton, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is the Chair of the Department of Communication Disorders as well as an expert on autism. He facilitated a three hour workship for 150 people on effective treatment for autism using teleconferencing. On the UniVO side, Ms. Lliana Diaz, Director for International Aaffairs, coordinated the function, which involved the technology team, the interpreter, and getting a facility that could hold 150 people comfortably.
Ms. Strauss conceived this presentation as a public information production. The Instructional Technology Department at NCCU has transmitted the teleconference with Orizaba on Channel 30. The Multimedia Designer-Center for University Teaching and Learning at CCU, is working on creating a bilingual videotape which has Dr. Layton presenting Power Point slides in both languages. The end product will be released on the websites of NCCU and UniVO so that the public in both countries can access the information.
To increase the professional relationship, faculty of the Department of Communication Disorders will take turns offering brief seminars in their areas of expertise. These seminars will be transmitted in the same manner as the original one by Dr. Layton. The use of programs such as SKYPE and Elluminate will facilitate transmission. This kind of multicultural/multilinguistic public service is consonant with the missions of UNC Tomorrow, NCCU, the School of Education, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Until our students can return to Orizaba, Ms. Diaz and Ms. Strauss are developing other international projects which will not require physical travel. For example, students who are English majors at UniVO and undergraduate students at NCCU plan to create a bilingual dictionary of communication disorders. They will exchange entries and have discussions about the information on the internet. Another goal involves creating a distance education program in speech-language pathology for Mexico and having the UniVO students come to NCCU for their coursework.
For further information, please contact:
Director, Bilingual Program
Department of Communication Disorders
Thomas L. Layton
Chair, Department of Communication Disorders