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St. John’s Students Bring Hearing Loss Awareness to Local Schools

Speech-Language Pathology student
Thursday, May 17, 2018

Students in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders put their education into practice while embodying an integral component of St. John’s University’s Vincentian mission—the call to serve.

The group of 24 Speech-Language Pathology majors participated in an Academic Service-Learning (AS-L) project at local middle and high schools during the Spring 2018 semester to spread awareness about hearing conservation and combat an increase in hearing loss among young people due to the rise of smartphone technology.

Funded by an Academic Service-Learning Faculty Development Mini Grant and a grant from the Richard and Camille Sinatra Endowment Fund, the project was led by Shruti Deshpande, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders, St. John’s University; Jason Thomas, AuD., Clinical Coordinator of Audiology and Clinical Instructor, St. John’s University; and collaborator Aniruddha K. Deshpande, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Audiology, Hofstra University. Colleen A. O’Brien, a doctoral student in Audiology at St. John’s, provided assistance with student instruction.

“Efforts to provide education, screenings, and follow-up care for school-aged participants will help make certain that children with hearing loss are identified and managed properly, which will in turn minimize negative academic consequences for those children,” said Dr. Thomas. “This project aims to spread awareness, provide service, and impact the future.”

In one lesson, the group taught 100 fifth- and sixth-grade students at Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy in Queens, NY, about the anatomy and physiology behind hearing. They also enlightened the students about the impact of hearing loss on speech perception and quality of life, as well as how noise effects hearing conservation.

“It was a great experience for our St. John’s students, for the community, and for our community-based research,” said Dr. Shruti Deshpande. “Our students were very professional and did an excellent job delivering instruction.”

Among the St. John’s students who helped educate the younger generation was junior Christina Pierre, a Speech Pathology and Audiology major from Brooklyn, NY. “My experience participating in the hearing project was profound,” said Christina. “I had the opportunity to help share the importance of our ears—as well as an audiologist’s role in protecting them. The children were amazed at the facts they were learning.”

In the future, Drs. Deshpande and Thomas will be expanding the program into Staten Island, thanks to a grant from the 30,000 Degrees Initiative, a partnership between higher education institutions and high schools that seeks to increase the number of college graduates in the borough.   

Service will continue in Queens during the Fall 2018 semester, when St. John’s doctoral students in the Audiology consortium with Adelphi and Hofstra Universities will provide hearing testing to the local community.