Speech Impaired Students
Speech Impaired Students
Speech impairments may be congenital or the result of illness or injury. They may be found alone or in combination with other disabilities, particularly with deafness. In any case, the college student with a speech impairment (unless it has been recently acquired) will probably have received some speech therapy.
Impairments range from problems with articulation or voice strength to being totally non-vocal. They include stuttering (repetition, blocks, and/or prolongations occasionally accompanied by distorted movements and facial expressions), chronic hoarseness (dysphonia), difficulty in invoking an appropriate word or term (nominal aphasia) and esophageal speech (resulting from a Laryngectomy.)
Some students will be hesitant about participating in activities that require speaking. Even if the student has adjusted well to a speech impairment, new situations may aggravate old anxieties. It is important that self-expression be encouraged, but pressure to speak in not apt to be helpful. It is important to allow time for the student to express himself or herself so that confidence can be gained. Speaking in front of a group can be an agonizing experience for anyone - the student with a speech impairment is no exception. It is also important for the instructor to accept and respond to all appropriate attempts at communication. When speaking to a person with a speech impairment, continue talking naturally. Resist the temptation to complete words or phrases for this person.
For persons who cannot speak and who are otherwise physically disabled so that they cannot sign, write, or type, various communication aids are available. These aids may range from sophisticated electronic speaking machines activated by punching a keyboard with a Mouth Wand to a spelling board that consists of a layout of the alphabet, a few common words and phrases, Yes and No, to which the speech impaired person points and an assistant may vocalize for the person. Some devices provide a ticker tape print-out or display the message on a calculator-like screen across which characters move. With some less portable devices, the message is displayed on a TV screen.
Depending on the severity of the impairment, various adapted methods may be required for the student with a speech impairment. Many of the adapted methods for evaluation suggested for other disabilities will be appropriate for this student. Some will require no adapted methods at all. Most will need patience, encouragement, and an opportunity to develop self-confidence in an unfamiliar group. The instructor can set the tone that encourages appropriate self-expression.