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Press Release:

MEDIA CONTACT: Toni Wolf
561-297-3029, twolf4@fau.edu

FAU Graduate Students Offer Speech Therapy Via Webcam to Republic of Rwanda Citizens

         BOCA RATON, FL (February 2, 2011) – Graduate students in the speech pathology and audiology program in Florida Atlantic University’s department of communication sciences and disorders have established a program with the Republic of Rwanda to offer speech and language services to its citizens.

            Using Skype webcam video, the graduate students teach “accent reduction therapy” to Rwandan businesspeople to improve their English pronunciation so that they can conduct business with Americans. 

“Rwandans learn British English, and the idioms, vocabulary, tone and stress patterns of British English are quite different from American English,” said Dale Williams, Ph.D., professor of communication sciences and disorders at FAU. “The therapy is helping the Rwandans to better understand Americans and be understood by them.”    

Williams was a Peace Corp volunteer who taught in Ghana in the early 1980s. The speech therapy program with Rwanda was established through the Koinonia Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides solar power to schools, medical care and other services begun by Williams’ father, Dr. Dale Williams, M.D.

FAU graduate student Michela Mir has worked with two groups in Rwanda over the last year, completing tasks that had them listening to different methods of word pronunciation, along with reviewing diagrams that showed how different vowels are produced in the mouth, with tongue placement and jaw movement. 

“I used research-based techniques, word lists and drills, moving from words to phrases to sentences and eventually to having a whole conversation,” said Mir. “There were technical difficulties because the Skype connection takes a lot of bandwidth, which isn’t easily available in Rwanda. But despite that, Skype seems to be an effective way to conduct therapy.  You’re face to face with them in real time.”

            For more information, contact Dr. Dale Williams at 561-297-3238 or dwilliam@fau.edu.

-FAU-

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Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit www.fau.edu .

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