New technology will support dramatic expansion of patient services at Northeast Ohio's only free speech clinic.

Cleveland Foundation Grant Supports Expansion of BW Speech Clinic Services

November 4, 2015

11-4-Speech-Clinic-2-previewWith support from the Cleveland Foundation, Baldwin Wallace University is moving forward with one of the final pieces in a multi-year initiative to substantially expand capacity at Northeast Ohio’s only free speech clinic. BW is working toward the goal of providing no-cost patient services to at least 600 clients annually, a dramatic increase from the 120 individuals served in recent years.

Part of a Three-Pronged Initiative

To meet the increasing demand for speech therapy services in the region and to address the shortage of speech-language pathology professionals, BW launched a three-pronged initiative to expand accessibility of services that included:

  • a university-funded $1.8 million expansion of BW’s Speech Clinic facility which opened this fall,
  • the August 2015 launch of a graduate program in Speech-Language Pathology, and
  • the transition from a sliding scale patient fee to free therapeutic services during 2014.

Now, with the support of a $199,000 Cleveland Foundation grant, state of the art audiology equipment, software, games and other devices will enable the faculty-supervised students from BW’s Communication Disorders undergraduate program and the recently added graduate program, to provide the highest quality, research-based speech and language services to a growing number of underserved children and families in the area.

Communication Skills Imperative for Quality of Life

Speech-Clinic-1-preview“Communication is a foundation for quality of life, so our services are truly an imperative for our patients, many of whom lack access to evaluation and therapies.” said Christie Needham, assistant professor and director of clinical education at the BW Speech Clinic. “Our clinic is the only Northeast Ohio facility providing speech and language services regardless of a patient’s ability to pay and we’re grateful that the Cleveland Foundation grant will allow us to better serve this vulnerable population.”

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, people who do not receive needed speech and language services suffer from lifelong deficits, diminished quality of life, and may ultimately require more health care services.

BW has operated the clinic since 1972, and has established multiple community partnerships that reach underserved populations, on and off site, across Northeast Ohio with disorders that include autism, learning disabilities, auditory processing disorders, aphasia, articulation disorders, stroke, Down’s Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, and stuttering.

Loaner Equipment Aims to Reduce Intervention Time

Some of the new equipment will be loaned out to community partner sites and families.

“The items that we are purchasing to be loaned out can significantly enhance therapies and reduce the time needed for intervention,” said Needham. “They can include everything from computer tablets loaded with special software to games and toys.”

The Cleveland Foundation grant will also provide for new clinical materials that better reflect the diversity of the Clinic’s patients and more accurately identify communication weaknesses.