Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Giving Voice Sheffield event

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists initiated a Giving Voice campaign to highlight the challenges faced by more than 3 million people in the UK who have difficulties with communication because of impaired speech or language. Additionally this campaign aims to raise awareness of the valuable work of speech and language therapists. There are more than 5000 individuals in the Sheffield area on the books of speech and language therapists.

Some children have difficulty in learning to speak because of specific speech and language impairments, others may lose the ability to communicate as the result of illness, disease or accident. One third of those who have had a stroke will find it difficult to communicate.

Speech and language skills are often taken for granted but are key to us being able to express our personality, achieve in education and work as well as being central to many recreational activities.

Dr Sylvia Dunkley, the Mayor of Sheffield
One of the Sheffield events in this campaign was hosted by the University of Sheffield on Friday, 16 March.  It was a unique event bringing together the NHS, local authority, politicians, healthcare professionals, teachers, researchers and those who educate speech and language therapists. Paul Blomfield (central Sheffield MP), Angela Smith (Penistone and Stocksbridge MP) Sir Andrew Cash OBE (Chief Executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust) councillor Dr Sylvia Dunkley (the Mayor of Sheffield) opened the event with warm remarks reflecting on personal experiences of relatives and friends who had speech and language difficulties and received support from speech and language therapy.  Professor Pam Enderby from the Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Research group also gave a presentation.

Vice Chancellor Keith Burnett
There were moving presentations on videotape and in-person by individuals with speech and language challenges (a person who has a stammer, a person unable to communicate because of motor neurone disease, a person challenged following a stroke, the mother of the child with autism and the mother of a child with specific speech and language impairment) which  brought home to the audience the significance of the difficulties and the value of therapy. The University of Sheffield has an internationally recognised undergraduate and postgraduate course to train speech and language therapists. It is also involved in research relating to the nature of speech and language disorders as well as unique methods for providing therapy and augmentative communication.

The Vice Chancellor closed  the event drawing attention to the devastating effect of losing faculties previously taken for granted and the value of support and therapy at times of radical life change.

[written by Pam Enderby]

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