20% Project – Summary

Over these past few weeks,  I found several other resources that address the question of using technology in speech therapy. There are hundreds of apps, software programs, and resource websites available to be utilized by therapists, teachers, parents, and even the students. A vast majority of these tools involve games, bight colors, and pictures, in order to engage young learners.

However, since my main focus was on geriatric speech therapy, I was hoping to find more resources geared to that specific demographic. I discovered that while there is a plethora of sources for k-12 speech communication, the sources for adult learners are far more limited. While it is possible to attempt to use some of the game-riddled apps meant for children in adult teaching, one has to be aware that using such programs may be considered insulting or demeaning for older adult learners.

Since many elderly learners are reluctant to access technology in the first place, resorting to using programs meant for children can add a further barrier between the older adult demographic and their willingness to learn and utilize technological methods to improve their speech impediments. As someone who as a great deal of experience working with the elderly population, I have come to realize that one of the most important things to these older persons is retaining their dignity as they progress in age. 

From their perspective, it can be terrifying enough to find themselves losing their independence and control of their faculties in a rapidly changing world that is far from the one they grew up in. For the speech therapists who work with them, it is of utmost importance to help these adults retain their dignity while helping them regain their ability to communicate. Because of this, one must choose the technological programs that they use very carefully. These programs should be age appropriate and respect the age and experience of their audience. 

As medical technology in our world progresses, people tend to live longer lives. The elderly population is growing as well as the need for programs that are appropriate for their use. The technological advances in speech therapy seem far behind when it comes to addressing this demographic. Many of these program developers do not account for the accessibility of the older generation simply because so few of this population considers technology a viable option for their learning. This leaves us as society responsible for developing ourselves on two main fronts: helping the elderly become comfortable with using technology, and making this technology accessible and relevant to them.  

20% percent project – entry 3

In continuing to explore my topic, I spent this week trying to combine the two topics I addressed in my first entry. My goal for this week was to find technological resources that specifically addressed the older adult population. This was far more difficult than researching the two aspects separately. In the previous weeks, I found so many resources that it was difficult to find the most helpful ones. This week, I found myself struggling to find enough resources that addressed all of my requirements. I have included some of these resources below:

  •  The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) seems to be the largest virtual hub of information regarding speech communication disorders. According to their website, it is “the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 173,070 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, speech, language, and hearing scientists, audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel, and students.” This website contains hundreds of links and programs that speech therapists as well as the public can access. 
  • This blog contains several resources and reviews for speech therapy apps that specifically address adult learners, The writer clearly explains how to use each app, with diagrams and explanations to help those who may not be familiar with how to work this type of technology. 
  • Tactus Therapy Solutions claims right away “We know about apps, iPads, and therapy, so let us do the research for you.” This resource is perfect for those who are overwhelmed by the prospect of exploring the web to find resources of use to them. This website contains an extensive list of adult-oriented speech apps as well as other programs such as webinars and online articles.

20% project – entry 2

This week, I focused more on the other aspect of my topic: the uses of technology in rehabilitative speech therapy. I found out that in addition to websites with teaching tips, several apps have been developed to allow speech therapists and language acquisition teachers to assess and and improve communicative abnormalities. I have listed some of my favorites below:

  • The Sunny Articulation Phonology Test Kit is a highly developed and praised assessment app that contains assessment tests that take approximately 9-20 minutes to complete. The app then displays the student’s current level and points out major speech abnormalities. It then gives basic treatment options to address the speech disabilities.
  • Speech Trainer 3D is a great tool especially for adult learners. It contains three dimensional interactive diagrams of each vowel and consonant in the english language. This app can show users many of the mechanics of sound production by displaying and highlighting areas of the mouth and throat needed to produce each sound.
  •  The new Geek SLP app is a free online archive that contains dozens of app reviews and other resources for speech therapists, teachers, and parents to use when teaching students with communication disorders. It is constantly updated with new information and reviews.

20% project – entry 1

Question: What are some ways that technology can be made accessible for geriatric patients in speech-therapy?

I chose this question because I hope to have a career in speech pathology some day. I hope to work with older adults who have encountered communication difficulties due to age, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, and other speech-impairing conditions which an older adult may encounter. The question I chose to research ties in two main components:

  1. The uses of technology in rehabilitative speech therapy
  2. Making technology accessible for a generation that has not been exposed to some of the personal uses of technology from an early age

After conducting a thorough search on the internet, I discovered a variety of sources that apply to my topic by addressing one of the two components I mentioned above. For this entry I chose to focus on the second component. I have included a summary of my preliminary research here.

  •  To begin my research, I started looking up the obstacles preventing much of the elderly population from comfortably using personal technology on a day to day basis. I found this blog which seems to have a very comprehensive array of articles analyzing the elderly perspective on technology. Based off this blog, one of the main obstacles separating the elderly from technological advances is a desire for independence. Many older adults consider technology to be a crutch rather than an advancement. An article in this blog summarizes it quite simply: “elderly most often like to retain some measure of independence. By using a walking cane, they appear old and crippled while a mobile phone makes it easy to check up on them, making some feel restricted.”
  • OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) is a nonprofit organization that teaches older adults computer skills as well as provides programs to bridge the technology gap between generations. “At OATS, we see our mission as much more than simply teaching seniors how to use computers. The technology gap is a symptom of a much wider problem of isolation and marginalization of older adults in America, and this is the real issue that animates our work. We use technology to empower and support older adults in living successful, independent lives. We use technology to connect seniors to services, to communities, and to one another. We establish lasting connections to other nonprofit partners and programs to help build more sustainable systems of support for older adults.”
  • Oasis Connections is another older adult support network that offers programs in technology. “OASIS Connections has enrolled over 80,000 adults in classes to build skills and confidence using computers, the Internet and mobile technology.  We partner with public libraries, senior centers, faith-based organizations and job help centers to help them teach their participants.”
  • This article shows some of the reasons why older adults may be reluctant to use technology as well as provides suggestions on how to help older adults who fall into one of the categories they describe.