Deaf and hard of hearing children in need of language work in Ireland, may benefit from a solution devised in rural Minnesota, in the United States.
Like Ireland, where a national shortage of speech teachers resulted from health-service hiring caps, Minnesota lacks speech teachers for children.
However, Minnesota’s moves to reduce its shortage of speech teachers for children, may work in Ireland, which has the acumen for technical solutions.
The speech & language telepractice solution devised in rural Minnesota, is now an ASHA-approved, award-winning program. Initially based on the idea of room-to-room video-conferencing, it now works on an individual level.
Children using the program for speech and language development, receive far more teaching time as their teachers no longer have to travel around.
Telepractice is defined by ASHA as “the application of telecommunications technology to delivery of professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client,… for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation.”
If a similar program was introduced in Ireland, Irish children in receipt of speech & language teaching would get increased access to such services.
Several websites already use telepractice to provide children with speech & language services. Lip-reading in live sessions is possible via digital screens with the use of high-density web-cameras and broadband internet links.
One telepractice provider, Presence Telecare, offers group teaching sessions via multi-point video conferencing. Another provider is The ‘Expressions Speech and Language Center‘, which provides real-time, online, face-to-face speech-language teaching to those unable to find a local teacher.
Telepractice holds big benefits as a low-cost solution, and if offered in Ireland, would give children resource options, especially in rural areas.
(compiled by Nicola Fox)
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