Case Studies feature students who have enrolled in individual speech-language therapy at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). The focus varies so that readers see the scope of instruction provided at NTID and the diversity of students accessing clinical services. Case studies address intelligibility, voice, pitch, articulation, pronunciation, spoken language and accent reduction as well as students' use of hearing aids/cochlear implants.

 

To put these Case Studies in a context, it would be beneficial for the reader to become familiar with RIT/NTID. NTID was formally established in 1965 through an Act of Congress (Public Law 89-36) and admitted the first students in 1968. NTID, the first technological college for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, is one of the eight colleges of the Rochester Institute of Technology, located in Rochester, NY. While the highest degrees awarded by the college of NTID are associate degrees, approximately 40% of the 1250 deaf and hard of hearing students are mainstreamed within the greater university which offers bachelor and master degree programs.

 

The vast majority of NTID students are born deaf to hearing parents and have an average PTA of approximately 92 dB and entering age of 20 years. Students come from a broad range of educational backgrounds including schools for the deaf and mainstreamed programs in public schools with varying support services. Students enter NTID with differing communication preferences and skills, as indicated on the Language/Communication Background Questionnaire which they fill out after acceptance to the college. Approximately 29% prefer ASL (sign language with no voice) while 14% prefer speech without sign language and the majority (57%) prefer simultaneous communication (signs with speech).

 

Communication assessment and instruction at NTID is available on a voluntary, no credit, no cost basis, for any student who chooses to access the services. Typically, the seven speech-language professionals at NTID have a caseload of six students per quarter as part of their teaching responsibilities. Students attend from one or two 50-minute sessions per week depending on their needs and course schedule. Most students continue for multiple quarters.

 

Case Staffings are conducted at our department meetings once quarterly for the purpose of presenting salient information about students currently enrolled in individual speech-language therapy. Approximately seven students are staffed each quarter. Instructors provide identifying information and general comments about their students' speech, language and voice characteristics. Relevant results of intake evaluations and associated therapy goals, activities and progress are discussed with department faculty.

 

Case Staffing Summary reports are written to document the types of students enrolled in speech-language services in a given quarter and the unique characteristics they present for clinical intervention. They reflect the challenges the department faces in meeting the needs of a diverse student population. Excerpts from three quarterly summaries are presented below to give the reader a flavor for the types of students we serve and will be highlighting in subsequent months.

 

Quarter 1: "Service was being provided to the students in a range from once every other week to twice a week. Several students came from a foreign language background and were desirous of learning spoken English. Students ranged from unintelligible, unaided students with little previous speech therapy to those who had intelligible speech with relatively minor interferences. Direct-admit, Pre-baccalaureate, and NTID majors were represented. Goals were diverse and included such aspects of spoken English as phrasing, vocabulary, fricative production, respiratory control, knowledge of letter/sound correspondence and carryover of skills into conversation."

 

Quarter 2: "Students who were staffed varied widely in their background and motivation for seeking speech-language therapy. One student attended a school for the deaf, another had attended both deaf and mainstreamed schools and others were always mainstreamed. One student with strong spoken language skills had a primary focus on improving written English, while another had excellent English skills and wanted to improve speech-reading and articulation. Two students had objectives related to improving voice quality, with one needing to coordinate respiration and phonation to reduce vocal tension and the other trying to lower habitual pitch. One student came from a French speaking background and was learning not only the English sound system to assist in pronunciation, but also functional communication in our American culture. Several students had no recent experience with amplification but were investigating the possible benefits of the newer digital hearing aids. Many of the students were cross-registered into RIT Bachelors level programs. In all, the students seemed highly motivated to improve their spoken language and had good retention of what they were learning in therapy."

 

Quarter 3: "Students in speech-language therapy who were discussed at the meeting displayed a range of intelligibility scores, articulation skills, voice characteristics and language levels. Several students were in their first year at NTID/RIT while others had been at the college for 5 years. Three came from foreign language backgrounds but had strong English language skills. Two of the students had medical syndromes as well as deafness. Students' speech-language therapy goals related to learning speech sound production categories, improving articulation, blending, co-articulation and pronunciation, and reducing rate and habitual pitch. Some were at the level of learning a phonological system while others were refining production or carryover into spontaneous speech. The use of audition varied in the group and several students were being referred to audiologists because of possible problems with their current devices including a cochlear implant, a programmable digital Impact hearing aid and BTE's."