NSSLHA Raises Awareness and Funds for Usher Syndrome Coalition

Usher Syndrome Coalition logoThe New Paltz chapter of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) has been actively raising awareness and funds for the Usher Syndrome Coalition this semester. After learning about Usher syndrome in an Audiology course, NSSLHA chapter co-presidents Catherine Schembri and Alexandra Lavrentieva encouraged chapter members to sponsor Usher syndrome as their semester project. Catherine writes:

“Usher syndrome is the most common condition that affects both hearing and vision. Early diagnosis is critical for children with Usher syndrome. While there is no definitive cure for Usher syndrome, but there are a LOT of treatments. Usher syndrome is inherited, which means that it is passed from parents to their children through genes. There are 3 types of Usher Syndrome: Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3. Approximately 3 to 6 percent of all children who are deaf and another 3 to 6 percent of children who are hard-of-hearing have Usher syndrome. In developed countries such as the United States, about four babies in every 100,000 births have Usher syndrome. The Usher Syndrome Coalition’s mission is to raise awareness and accelerate research for the most common cause of combined deafness and blindness. The Coalition also provides information and support to individuals and families affected by Usher syndrome. In short, the Usher Syndrome Coalition strives to be the most comprehensive resource for the Usher syndrome community. The biggest way people can participate is to explore the Usher Syndrome Coalition’s website and raise awareness. Many people are unaware of this syndrome and its effects. If you would like to contribute, the NSSLHA club is selling the Usher Syndrome Coalition’s logos for $1, which will be hung in the window of the SUB. NSSLHA will also be fundraising in town at places such as Shop Rite and McGillicuddy’s. And be sure to visit the Usher Syndrome Coalition website at http://www.usher-syndrome.org/.”

Eat at McGillicuddy’s December 11, 2014

You can help NSSLHA this Wednesday by having a meal at McGillicuddy’s on Main Street in New Paltz. Print this coupon and present it when ordering and McGillicuddy’s will donate 10% of the tab to the Usher Syndrome Coalition.

Coupon for McGillicuddy's

Print this coupon and bring it to McGillicuddy’s Restaurant in New Paltz on December 11th

Or, pick up a coupon at the Communication Disorders Dept. office on campus in the Humanities Building, Room 14A (HUM14A). You can also help by purchasing an Usher Syndrome Coalition Usher syndrome t-shirtlogo for $1, or a t-shirt!

NSSLHA will host a guest speaker from the Usher Syndrome Coalition, and celebrate it’s December graduates at the annual banquet, taking place on December 10th at 6pm in the College Terrace. The final event of the semester will be a question and answer session with a panel of New Paltz Communication Disorders faculty and graduate students.  Contact Catherine Schembri at N02560757@hawkmail.newpaltz.edu for more information.

Cognitive Science Colloquium Series Begins with Sign Language Lecture

Coppola field photo 2

Dr. Marie Coppola conducts field work to promote equal access to language and education for deaf individuals.

Dr. Marie Coppola will be the first speaker of the 2014-2015 Cognitive Science Colloquium Series. Dr. Coppola is the director of the Language Creation Lab at the University of Connecticut. Her research investigates how sign languages emerge and are created in communities. Her talk will focus on homesign gesture systems (that is, gesture systems developed by deaf individuals who are not exposed to conventional sign or spoken language input), their characteristics, and the developmental consequences of linguistic deprivation with respect to other aspects of cognition.

coppola headshot vertical

Dr. Coppola

Dr. Coppola’s talk, titled “Which aspects of language and cognition depend on linguistic input? Insights from homesign gesture systems” will take place on Thursday, October 23, at 3:30 pm in the Coykendall Science Building Auditorium. The talk is sponsored by Campus Auxiliary Services and by the following programs and departments: Linguistics, Deaf Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Communication Disorders, and Psychology.

Abstract of the Talk:

Researchers in the cognitive sciences have long debated the relationships between linguistic input and language structure, as well as the relationships between language and cognition. Homesign systems offer a unique window into these relationships. Homesigns are gesture systems developed by deaf individuals who are not exposed to conventional sign or spoken language input. Homesign systems exhibit a number of linguistic properties, but appear to lack others, which depend on access to a linguistic model and/or interaction within a language community. Dr. Coppola will show that homesign systems have structure at a variety of levels of linguistic analysis, including phonology and discourse structure. Dr. Coppola will describe some of the developmental consequences of linguistic (but not social) deprivation, particularly with respect to number cognition. Finally, she will discuss her work with Manos Unidas (www.manos-unidas.org), a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote equal access to language and education for deaf individuals in Nicaragua.

Study Abroad Opportunity in Deaf Studies

Please join us on Monday, October 27 for a slide show and presentation on this exciting study abroad opportunity affiliated with the Deaf Studies program:

Deaf Studies study abroad presentation announcementLearn more about faculty member Rebecca Swenson’s trip to Ethiopia this past summer here:

 Deaf Education and Empowerment in Ethiopia

For more information, contact Rebecca Swenson at swensonr@newpaltz.edu


Communication Disorders Graduate Program Open House

Are you interested in applying to graduate school for a degree in Communication Disorders, or do you know someone who is? The Graduate Program in Communication Disorders will be having an open house from 2pm to 4pm on December 18, 2014; join us in Room 22 of the Humanities Building. Here is a link to assist campus visitors:

Campus Visitor Information

Additionally, the program coordinator, Dr. Anne Balant, will be offering informal tours of the department and the Speech, Language and Hearing Center facilities at 2:30pm on two Fridays: October 31 and November 21 – meet in the Humanities Building, Room 14A.

Grad program open house announcement

The Making of an ASL Song

By Maria Gillin, President, SUNY New Paltz American Sign Language Club

Every semester begins the same, we introduce ourselves and say what we do. Then we see what the members of our club are interested in. We learn the most about each other when we pick what song we want to translate and learn how to sign. Our members always get to choose – we ask them for song ideas, narrow them down based on level of difficulty, and put it to a vote. Then the fun begins. It usually takes 3 or 4 days to translate a song and then from there it takes about 4 meetings to teach everyone and be comfortable enough that we can perform the song, or record ourselves.

This past year we had the awesome experience of performing twice, once at Relay for Life and again at the Sexy Pitches final spring performance. Our debut at Relay for Life was bigger and better than we ever imagined. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch when we took the stage. Afterwards we spent over a half hour with people asking about how they could join and be a part of something so awesome.

Here is the ASL Club performing “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen:

The ASL Club meets on Mondays at 8pm in the Commuter Lounge, SUB100S. Please join us, or get in touch-

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/177656342271232/

Twitter: @NewPaltzASLClub

Instagram: @newpaltzaslclub

President Maria Gillin – mariae.gillin@gmail.com

Vice President Sarah Broughton – sbroughton@hawkmail.newpaltz.edu


2014 “Honor Ride” Raises Over $10K

2014 Honor Ride group photo

Group Photo at Stewart Air Force Base

On August 24th, I joined over 120 cyclists from eight different states in a 50-mile fundraising “Honor Ride” for Ride 2 Recovery, an organization that gets veterans into cycling and provides training and specially adapted equipment to aid in their recovery.

We set out from Veteran’s Park in Maybrook with dozens of red, white, and blue jerseys among the usual road-safe yellows and greens. At every major intersection, scary-looking guys from the Orange County chapter of the Defiant Crew roared up on Harley Davidsons and turned them sideways to block traffic, then cheered us on as we streamed past. After a rest stop in Gardiner at mile 25, our escorts bunched the group so we could ride into our next stop, Stewart Air Force Base, as a unit, weaving through barricades, road spikes, and gateposts. As we assembled for a group photo under the flags, a veteran asked me to turn off the flashing safety light on my bike because it could trigger a seizure in someone who has had a traumatic brain injury; a poignant reminder that not every veteran has visible wounds.

The Honor Ride is not supposed to be a race, but road cyclists are a competitive bunch. On the last leg, this spirit was unleashed, and the leaders were soon well ahead of the escorts. I pushed to stay on their heels as a personal tribute. As I attacked the long hill back into Maybrook, the burning in my lungs and muscles was a visceral reminder of how hard injured veterans have to push every day in rehabilitation to restore something even close to a normal life.

Prof. Anne Balant

Prof. B on a bike? No way!

We crossed the finish line accompanied by the ringing of cowbells and the grins of young volunteers. As we demolished a buffet lunch, we heard inspiring remarks from a number of individuals. Veteran Matt Dewitt, an accomplished cyclist and racer, showed us how it is possible to steer, shift and brake an adapted bicycle using his prostheses. The Defiant Crew posed for photos with some of the cyclists and announced that they were donating what they would have been paid for their time. Overall, we raised more than $10,000 that day.

The Honor Ride will be back in Maybrook again sometime next year. Hope to see you there!

- Written by Anne Balant, SUNY New Paltz Communication Disorders Department

Matt DeWitt - Vet Rider

Veteran Matt DeWitt demonstrates his adapted bicycle

  invisible words to push this down so it isn’t broken up by the photos – don’t know hows!

Ride 2 Recovery is a non-profit organization that assists injured military members, veterans, and first responders in their physical and mental rehabilitation through cycling. To donate or become involved, visit their web site: www.ride2recovery.com

Deaf Awareness Week Film Presented in Sign Language and Closed Captioned for the Hearing

In celebration of Deaf Awareness Week, students are invited to attend a screening of the film Versa Effect on Monday, Sept. 22 from 6:30-8:30 in LC 100. The PG movie is presented in Sign Language and is closed captioned for the hearing!

From their childhood years to working at a Deaf school in Texas, Jackie and Seth have Versa Effectalways loved to…HATE each other. To make matters worse, their bodies have been switched. What follows is a series of laugh-a-minute hijinks as Jackie and Seth struggle to get back to their own bodies before they are stuck forever. Versa Effect is filmed in the vein of Freaky Friday and is sure to be enjoyed by all.

The film screening is sponsored by the Mid-Hudson Deaf Awareness Group, Department of Communication Disorders, Sociology Concentration in Human Services, Taconic Resources for Independence, Inc. and Campus Auxiliary Services.

The screening is free.  For more information, email commdis@newpaltz.edu.

Deaf Education and Empowerment in Ethiopia

Ethiopia_2014_Empowerment_GroupParticipation in the Visions Global Empowerment Deaf Education and Empowerment program this summer renewed my love for traveling in Africa and strengthened my desire to awaken and increase Deaf Awareness in others.

In July and August I Ethiopia_2014_Empowerment_Youth1had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Ethiopia on a service trip. My experience of Ethiopian culture and of cultural exchange was amazing. As part of the trip, we participated in Deaf Leadership Capacity training workshops with local Deaf adults, teachers and profeEthiopia_2014_Empowerment_Youth2ssionals in the field of Deafness. Also working in partnership with the Ethiopian Deaf Community, we conducted activities for Deaf children, youth and young adults. One of my favorite activities with the Deaf youth was to have them create a book about themselves. Then we had each student share their book with the group.

I especially enjoyed gaining insight into Ethiopian Deaf Culture. One similarity to American Deaf Culture that I observed was the desire for clear communication, expressed by being straight forward and getting to the point when conversing. It was intriguing to be immersed in the culture and to compare Ethiopian Sign Language to American Sign Language. There were differences in many signs and we had interpreters. After a short time signing together we were able to find ways to clarify things and communicate appropriately. It was a fantastic trip!

Ethiopia_2014_Empowerment_LeadersIn collaboration with Visions Global Empowerment, SUNY New Paltz will be offering a Study Abroad Program to Ethiopia in summer of 2015, June 15-27. For information about this opportunity contact: Rebecca Swenson at swensonr@newpaltz.edu.

For information about Visions, visit: www.VisionsGlobalEmpowermEthiopia_2014_Empowerment_RSwensonent.org.

-Post written by Rebecca Swenson, SUNY New Paltz Lecturer in the Deaf Studies Program and the Dept. of Communication Disorders


Communication Disorders Offers Post-Baccalaureate Foundation for Graduate Work

Christine Delfino

Christine Delfino

By Despina Williams Parker

Since 2010, the Department of Communication Disorders has offered non-matriculated students with undergraduate degrees in other fields the foundational courses they need to make career changes possible.

Christine Delfino completed post-baccalaureate Foundations of Communication Disorders coursework in 2013 and is one of the initiative’s success stories.

Inspired by her undergraduate internships in the arts, Delfino was poised to begin a career in museum education. But a year into her work at a college art museum, Delfino found her career not as meaningful as she’d hoped.

“I realized that my favorite parts of the job were the ones where I got to interact with people face-to-face, and in situations where I felt like I was helping them; however, I felt like I wasn’t making a significant difference. I quickly realized that the art world was not for me,” she said.

Delfino studied Spanish and literature as an undergraduate. She had a keen interest in languages and communication, which had previously taken a backseat as she pursued a career in the arts. At her mother’s suggestion, she researched a career in speech-language pathology and discovered the New Paltz program.

State and federal laws require speech-language pathologists to complete a master’s degree and clinical work before practicing in the field. New Paltz’s post-baccalaureate coursework meets all of the prerequisite requirements for the graduate program in communication disorders at the university, as well as many others throughout the country.

Coursework is offered online through the Blackboard Learning Network, and courses are asynchronous, meaning that students do not need to log in at a particular time.

The online format appealed to Delfino, who continued to work part-time throughout her studies. She completed the coursework in a year and a half, and was pleased with its high quality.

“In general I found the online format to be easily accessible and the quality of the courses to be strong. I think the program is very well structured and organized. The students know the trajectory of their course load within the post-baccalaureate program, and I would say that the quality of the courses is comparable to being in in-person classes,” Delfino said.

Delfino is now in her last year in the master’s program in communication disorders at Arizona State University. Drawing upon her undergraduate studies, Delfino has pursued the bilingual (Spanish/English) track in speech-language pathology.

She recently won first place in the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s 2014 Student Ethics Essay Contest, in which she described the importance of professionalism and ethics in the clinical supervisor/student clinician relationship.

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Associate Dean Stella Turk, who coordinates Foundations of Communication Disorders, said students who earn the certificate have a “very high rate of acceptance” into graduate programs. She attributes this success to the program’s high academic standards — students must receive a B or higher in each course to remain enrolled — and students’ self-discipline and focus in completing the rigorous coursework.

“These students are on a mission; their mission is to get into a graduate program,” Turk said.

Delfino has enjoyed her graduate studies, and particularly her work as a research assistant. She plans to eventually pursue a Ph.D.

Delfino credits her online studies at New Paltz with preparing her for work at the graduate level. “Since my undergraduate degree was completely unrelated to communication disorders, the post-bacc. program provided me with the strong, general foundation that I needed to pursue a master’s degree,” she said.

For more on Foundations in Communication Disorders, click here.

High-Tech Listening: iPhone App for Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are better than ever; they’re slim, customized, discrete and technologically advanced. They are no longer the devices of the past that your grandparents kept in a drawer only to wear for an occasional outing. They are digital and brimming with connectivity. Hearing aids can connect to any device that is Bluetooth compatible, such as a computer, television, cell phone, land line phone, music device, car system and more. If the target device is not Bluetooth, then an adaptor can be utilized.

Collage of hearing aids throughout history

Hearing aids throughout history

Recently a variety of hearing aid companies have introduced another advancement: iPhone compatibility. Apple’s “Made for iPhone Hearing Aid” program allows the iPhone to act as a remote control for hearing aids. When moving from one sound environment to another, such as entering a noisy restaurant, adjusting the volume or switching the hearing aid’s pre-programmed environment settings is easily done with the iPhone app. In addition, the app can be used to select an input source, such as cell phone, TV or music, so that sound is delivered from the source directly to the hearing aid.

If you would like to find out more about hearing aids, please contact the SUNY New Paltz Speech Language and Hearing Center at (845) 257-3600.