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

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

For information about Visions, visit:

-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.



Speech-Language and Hearing Center Closed July 21 – August 29

The SUNY New Paltz Speech-Language and Hearing Center will be closed from July 21 through August 29. During this time, hearing aid appointments for audiological clients will be conducted on the lower level of the building. Work on the Center and building infrastructure is being done to prepare for an upcoming renovation. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Questions should be directed to Sandy DiStasi, Secretary of the Communication Disorders Department, at (845) 257-3600.


Head of Her Class


Arielle Rubinstein

By Despina Williams Parker

For the second year in a row, a graduate of the Communication Disorders Department has been named class valedictorian. Arielle Rubinstein, who double majored in linguistics and maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA, delivered the class of 2014 commencement address on Sunday, May 18, at the Old Main Quadrangle.

At New Paltz, Rubinstein distinguished herself as excellent student and leader. She served as president of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA), which advocates for communication disorders organizations. Through her work with the association, she organized fundraisers for the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders and invited experts in the field to campus to deliver lectures.


Rubinstein (second from right), served as president of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association at New Paltz. She is shown with fellow association members Alexandra Lavrentieva, Catherine Schembri and Victoria Guido.

As a student, she interned at a special services elementary school in her hometown of Robbinsville, N.J., where she learned valuable skills that she will apply in her chosen career as a speech language pathologist. “It gave me a good foundation of what it means to be speech pathologist, especially working with a population that’s so impaired,” she said. “It was more meaningful because you were helping students really communicate.”

In her senior year, she worked in the Communication Disorders Department’s Early Intervention Clinic, conducting therapy with both a client and parent. “The point is to make the parent the therapist,” Rubinstein noted. “You’re working with children with language disorders and delays and showing parents how to model language with the child and engage the child in play to produce language. You are showing parents how to create an optimal environment for the child to communicate.”

Rubinstein said her client, a two-year-old girl, made significant progress during their time together. “By the end, she was initiating her own play, using three- and four-letter words to express what she wanted, and had more consideration of other people within her play situations,” she said.

Rubinstein has been accepted into New Paltz’s Master of Science in Communication Disorders program. Though she was accepted at other schools, Rubinstein said she liked the “sense of community” at New Paltz.

“I know all the professors really well. I was one of those people who always went to office hours to get help, and I felt like they were always there for me when I had a problem. They want you to do well. They’re really encouraging and supportive,” Rubinstein said.

Rubinstein noted the importance of developing relationships with professors and getting involved in campus life. The class valedictorian advised her New Paltz peers to take an active role in their education.

“Things aren’t always going to come to you. You have to go out and work for them,” she said.

Watch Rubinstein’s valedictory address here.


Keep Your Voice Healthy! – Voice Clinic May 28 – June 18

woman speaking

Do your professional or personal obligations strain your voice? Have you wondered why, and if there is anything you can do about it? If so, then this 4-week voice clinic is for you.

Voice Maintenance Clinic: Keeping Your Voice Healthy is a group clinic that will focus on techniques and rationale for developing and maintaining the best voice for speaking or singing at any age. It will include a basic assessment, information on the mind/body/voice connection, practice activities, and maintenance plans.

Date: Wednesdays, May 28-June 18, 2014
Time: 10:30am – 12:00pm
Where: Speech-Language and Hearing Center, SUNY New Paltz, Humanities Building
Cost: $20 for all 4 sessions; free for SUNY New Paltz faculty, staff and students

Liz Hester

Liz Hester, CCC/SLP, PhD

The workshop is presented by Elizabeth Hester, CCC/SLP, PhD, a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist with experience in Somatic and Estill voice training, and staffed by graduate student clinicians.

To register, please contact Sandy DiStasi in the Department of Communication Disorders at (845) 257-3600. Questions? – contact Liz Hester at


‘Identify the Signs’ Campaign Promotes Awareness of Communication Disorders

hearing and speech month

With 8-9 percent of young children suffering from speech disorders, May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month is the perfect time for parents to learn how to recognize the early signs of these disorders. The Speech, Language, Hearing Center at the State University of New York at New Paltz is encouraging parents to educate themselves through the Identify the Signs campaign, a national effort of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The campaign is designed to combat an overall lack of awareness about communication disorders—a major barrier to treatment for the more than 40 million total Americans who are affected.

Speech, language, and hearing disorders are among the most common disabilities in the United States. However, unlike many other disabilities, these disorders often are reversible and even preventable with early intervention. Unfortunately, many parents do not recognize the first signs of these disorders. In young children, early treatment can help prevent them from falling behind academically, socially, and in other key areas at a critical time in their development.

Certified speech-language pathologists see the benefits of early intervention every day. Unfortunately, the consequences of waiting too long to seek treatment are also seen and this is one of the reasons that education and early identification are being promoted. This is the idea behind the American Speech and Hearing Association’s Identify the Signs campaign.

While it is certainly never too late to seek help, treatment is most successful, less expensive, and most effective when a parent or loved one is able to recognize the earliest signs of these disorders. MAY IS BETTER HEARING AND SPEECH MONTH, and this is the perfect time for caregivers to familiarize themselves with these signs at ASHA’s website. Caregivers should also seek information or an assessment from a certified speech-language pathologist if they have any questions

Identify the Signs of Communication Disorders

In children, parents should watch for the following signs of speech, language and hearing disorders:

Does not interact socially (infancy and older)

  • Does not follow or understand what you say (starting at 1 year)
  • Says only a few sounds or words or makes only a few gestures (18 months to 2 years)
  • Says words that are not easily understood (18 months to 2 years)
  • Does not combine words (starting at 2 years)
  • Struggles to say sounds or words (3 to 4 years)
  • Does not seem to hear what you are saying
  • Frequently asks “what”?

In adults, signs of speech and language disorders include:

  • Struggles to say sounds or words (stuttering)
  • Repeats words or parts of words (stuttering)
  • Says words in the wrong order (expressive aphasia)
  • Struggles with using words and understanding others (global aphasia)
  • Has difficulty imitating speech sounds (apraxia)
  • Speaks at a slow rate (apraxia)
  • Produces slurred speech (dysarthria)

For more signs, treatment information, and other resources, visit

For more information regarding speech and hearing, please contact Department of Communication Disorders Chair Wendy Bower  ( To schedule an appointment for a speech or hearing assessment, please contact the department secretary at (845) 257-3600.

LA&S Summer Internship Scholarships

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce scholarships to support low-paying or unpaid summer internships for students.  For summer 2014 we will offer two or three $1,000 awards.  This program is supported by generous contributions from SUNY New Paltz parents, alumni, and friends to the LA&S Dean’s Fund.

These are merit-based awards that take into account the student’s GPA, the quality of the internship, the relevance of the internship to the student’s academic major and educational goals, and the relevance of the internship to the student’s future career.


  • Applicants should be majors in a department or program within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
  • Applicants should have a 3.3 or higher cumulative G.P.A.
  • Preference will be given to students in their junior year; seniors who will graduate in May or August 2014 are not eligible for this award.
  • The internship cannot be with a business or organization run by a family member, relative, or close family friend.

To apply, students should submit the following:

  • A 300-500 word description of the internship and its relation to the student’s academic major, educational goals, and career plans
  • A resume
  • An academic transcript with cumulative G.P.A.
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty

Applications should be sent to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, JFT 614.  Deadline for applications is May 7, 2014.  Awards will be announced on May 15, 2014.

April is Autism Awareness Month


April is Autism Awareness month, and it is Autism Awareness Week here on campus. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development, which are characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism, in varying degrees, in the United States.

The SUNY New Paltz chapter of Autism Speaks U will be hosting a series of events aimed at raising autism awareness and raising funds for Autism Speaks. Be sure to visit their table outside of SUB100 this week; bracelets, pins, water bottles, and raffle tickets will be on sale. Blue hair extensions and henna tattoos are also available.

On Friday, April 4, eat a meal at P&Gs on Main Street and 15% of the bill will go to Autism Speaks U; you must present the coupon, which can be printed from the chapter’s Facebook group page:

In addition to this week’s events, there will be a parent panel on Thursday, April 24 at 6:30pm in CSB Auditorium. Parents on the panel will share their experiences in helping their child navigate the public education system and answer audience questions.

About Autism Speaks U

Autism Speaks U is a program designed to support college students in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts for Autism Speaks. Since its inaugural event at Penn State in 2006, Autism Speaks U events have raised over $1 million and student-organized Walk teams have brought in millions more.

The Autism Speaks U SUNY New Paltz chapter was founded by Danielle Franke in November 2011. She says: “I decided to start this chapter on our campus because of my past work with children on the spectrum. Our chapter has raised much-needed awareness of autism, and we have been successful at raising money for Autism Speaks and for individuals on the spectrum; we raised money for a child to receive a therapy dog.”

Visit the Autism Speaks U table outside SUB100 to learn more about autism, Autism Speaks, and to support the efforts of this “true blue” campus group!