Hot Topics and High Times in a Hip City: Convention Draws 12,000 to Philadelphia ASHA made history in Philadelphia on Nov. 18–20 as 12,346 members from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and 41 foreign countries gathered to learn, celebrate, and feel the collective energy and passion that makes the ASHA Convention a memorable event. Speech-language pathologists, audiologists, researchers, university faculty, and ... ASHA Convention Coverage
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ASHA Convention Coverage  |   December 01, 2010
Hot Topics and High Times in a Hip City: Convention Draws 12,000 to Philadelphia
Author Notes
  • Susan Boswell, ASHA Leader assistant managing editor, can be reached at sbsoswell@asha.org.
    Susan Boswell, ASHA Leader assistant managing editor, can be reached at sbsoswell@asha.org.×
  • Carol Polovoy, ASHA Leader editorial production manager, can be reached at cpolovoy@asha.org.
    Carol Polovoy, ASHA Leader editorial production manager, can be reached at cpolovoy@asha.org.×
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Hearing Disorders / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage   |   December 01, 2010
Hot Topics and High Times in a Hip City: Convention Draws 12,000 to Philadelphia
The ASHA Leader, December 2010, Vol. 15, 20-24. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC.15152010.20
The ASHA Leader, December 2010, Vol. 15, 20-24. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC.15152010.20
ASHA made history in Philadelphia on Nov. 18–20 as 12,346 members from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and 41 foreign countries gathered to learn, celebrate, and feel the collective energy and passion that makes the ASHA Convention a memorable event. Speech-language pathologists, audiologists, researchers, university faculty, and students found rich educational offerings, inspiring speakers and great entertainment at special events, and the time to socialize with colleagues.
What was new this year? A growing number of sessions on social media and applications, new special interest divisions on global issues and on public health related to hearing and balance, and special guest presenters such as Alexa Posny from the U.S. Department of Education.
At the opening session, Convention co-chairs Shari Robertson and Tony Cacace donned fedoras and shades to introduce the program, which featured keynotes by President Tommie L. Robinson Jr. and Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Young students in Philadelphia enjoy a concert as part of the citywide “Buds in the Schools” week Nov. 17–19. The concerts featured kid-friendly artists who spread the safe-listening message of ASHA’s “Listen to Your Buds” Campaign.
Robinson, exploring the Convention theme of “Leadership into New Frontiers,” urged the 3,000 attendees to pursue leadership in all areas of life and to create positive change. Leadership is about attributes that everyone can access—compassion, courage, management skills, innovation, or intelligence, he said.
“Most leaders are not famous,” Robinson said. “They lead from where they are, often without recognition or fanfare. These leaders are seated beside you, are in your hometown, and at your place of work.”
The crowd stood and applauded as Robinson recognized one of the greatest leaders in his own life—his mother, who raised nine children, served as a surrogate mother to two other families, and became a foster parent to more than 60 children. “Our lives focused on service,” he said.
In her keynote, Brinker described how the power of communication helped end the stigma of breast cancer and united people around the world. When her sister, Susan G. Komen, had breast cancer 30 years ago, “it wasn’t just a dangerous medical diagnosis, it was a social stigma,” she said.
Komen fought the disease and the lack of understanding, and as she struggled to communicate near the end of her life, asked her sister to do everything in her power to end breast cancer.
“One night I had a dream of women running—warriors—and they were in pink,” Brinker said. This vision became Race for the Cure, which began with 800 runners and has grown to 130 global races with more than 1.5 million participants. The organization has raised and spent $1.5 billion on research, treatment, care, and screening. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is now 98%, up from 74% when the race began.
A Festival of Learning
Members were busy in Philly, choosing from 1,798 educational sessions, including 28 short courses, 500 seminars, 1,121 poster sessions, 120 technical sessions, and 29 exhibitor sessions. There also was a town meeting that drew 350 researchers and academics, the annual research symposium, events by the ASHFoundation and the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSHLA), the Career Fair, open houses and receptions, and more. For a breather—well, sort of—members flocked to the exhibit hall to pick up information about clinical resources, organizations, publications, and of course, giveways.
Members formed Dynamic Learning Groups (DLGs), which met at the beginning and end of the Convention, to enhance their learning experiences. In response to comments from previous years, ASHA established an online DLG forum so that participants could communicate before the Convention, and about 75% of the 125 (the maximum capacity) who signed up did so. Each DLG, which focused on a particular topic (e.g., health care, schools practice, autism, audiology, early intervention, multicultural issues, AAC, motor speech), formed learning goals, stayed in touch during the Convention, and gathered at the close to share their knowledge and experiences.
Great New Division 8
Special Interest Division 8, previously known as Hearing Conservation and Occupational Audiology, now has a new mission and title—Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance. The division celebrated its new focus with a session highlighting the wide range of public health issues in audiology. Presenters discussed the progress of early hearing detection and intervention efforts in improving the outcomes for infants identified with hearing loss, the role of the expert witness, military audiology efforts in assessment and auditory processing, classroom acoustics, the need to improve vestibular and balance tests for children, and dual sensory changes in older adults.
School-Based Leadership
Alexa Posny, assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) in the U.S. Department of Education, presented at “Listen, Learn, Lead: ASHA’s Engagement Session for School-Based SLPs.” She outlined OSER’s six goals: intervening early, preparing students for college or careers, preparing students to be self-sufficient, engaging the family and community in a student’s education and preparation, preparing personnel to provide services to students with disabilities, and linking research and development with technical assistance.
All children who need help should receive it, Posny said. “We need to get rid of labels,” she said. “Why should students need a label to get the services they need?” The key, Posny said, is response to intervention (RTI), which can be used to “provide any support to any child in any school at any time.”
Posny said that RTI should include not only the academic aspects of education, but also social and affective aspects through positive behavioral intervention and supports. She showed the importance of SLPs in RTI with data on the dramatic difference in the number of words acquired among pre-schoolers at different socioeconomic levels, with children in poverty lagging far behind. “There’s a huge gap and we have to catch them up,” Posny said. “What SLPs do is critically important to the success of these children.”
Awards Ceremony
Joey McIntyre, recipient of the Annie Glenn Award.
At the awards ceremony Friday night, ASHA members honored their peers for their outstanding accomplishments. Standing ovations greeted each recipient of the 10 Honors awardees and each of the 19 Fellows. Awards also were presented for editorial contributions, multicultural activities, early research, NSSLHA, the ASHFoundation, and media coverage (see The ASHA Leader, Nov. 2, 2010).
Presentation of “The Annie”—named for Annie Glenn—was a highlight of the ceremony, as always. Annie Glenn, who has struggled with dysfluency, is the wife of astronaut and former Sen. John Glenn. She is beloved by ASHA as a national champion for individuals with communication disorders. The award goes to an individual who demonstrates her tireless efforts to build public awareness on behalf of those with communication disorders.
Robinson presented the award to musician and actor Joey McIntyre on behalf of the Glenns. McIntyre was a member of the New Kids on the Block, and is now a solo artist and actor. His People magazine interview last spring launched a new role—that of advocate for hearing research and organizations.
Ten days after his son Rhys was born in December 2009, “we were in shock when his ABR test indicated severe bilateral hearing loss,” McIntyre said, adding that he and his wife were “clueless” about hearing loss and are trying to become more informed.
One-year-old Rhys has hearing aids on both ears and “he’s doing amazingly well,” McIntyre said. “Right now we’re at a crossroads—we don’t want Rhys to have [a cochlear implant] operation if he doesn’t need one. Right now he’s not a candidate.”
Rhys is “a blessing,” McIntyre said, “and he’s going to be strong, and he’s going to have a different perspective. But he’s going to be okay. I can’t wait to see where he goes and what he does.” McIntyre thanked ASHA members for the services that they provide, and added, “It’s a blessing for me to be involved with this organization.”
Go West!
The 2011 ASHA Convention travels to San Diego, Calif., on Nov. 17–19. Mark your calendars for ASHA’s biggest event of the year. For details visit ASHA’s website.
ASHA by the Numbers

12,346 attendees from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The biggest turnouts were from New York (1,894) and Pennsylvania (1,751).

41 foreign nations were represented.Outside North America, the largest number came from the United Kingdom, Australia, and Brazil. Attendees also traveled from Malta, Iceland, and Cyprus.

1,798 educational sessions.

1,000 Convention tweets from more than 200 contributors.

84% of registrations were online, and 22% of registrants submitted a proposal to present at Convention.

1,200 attendees participated in the Career Fair, where 74 employers sought to fill more than 120 job vacancies.

295 companies exhibited.

ASHFoundation Awards $394,500 at Breakfast, Hosts Fundraiser

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Several recipients of ASHA’s 2010 Audiology Research Travel Awards enjoyed the ASHFoundation breakfast.

At the annual American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation breakfast, more than 330 guests showed their support for the foundation and its grant recipients—47 talented researchers, students, and clinicians who received $394,500 in awards. The program also included a poignant dedication and vocalist tribute in memory of Sadanand Singh, an ASHFoundation champion and leader in the professions.

At the ASHFoundation’s opening-night fundraiser at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in the historic Landmark Building, guests enjoyed an elegant evening of American art, cool jazz by the Steve Cain Trio, and culinary delights. An Academy student reproduced a masterpiece from the collection to onlookers’ amazement.

Town Meeting

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Participants at the Researcher-Academic Town Meeting

The 2010 Researcher-Academic Town Meeting, which focused on how to attract more PhD students, drew 350 new faculty, PhD students, and seasoned CSD faculty/researchers in communication sciences and disorders. Presentations by Brenda Ryals of James Madison University and Laurence Leonard of Purdue University served as the starting point for roundtable discussions. The spirited conversations as well as comments and questions to the presenters centered on the length of the PhD program, use of alternative technologies, grant funding, part-time clinical fellowships and doctoral programs, emphasizing the positive aspects of a research career to students, and other factors that could affect potential PhD students’ decisions to pursue a research career.

Minority Student Leadership Program

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Minority Student Leadership Program participants at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott.

As part of the Minority Student Leadership Program (MSLP), participants presented three-minute, evidence-based persuasive arguments to a panel of veteran clinicians and academicians. The undergraduate and graduate CSD students offered compelling and well-researched presentations focused on topics such as increasing distance-learning opportunities for CSD students, increasing multicultural training, salary supplements for bilingual clinicians, and the need for more men in the professions. Panelists praised the students for their poise and research abilities with comments such as those by Sandi Gillam, associate professor of speech-language pathology at Utah State University. “As an undergraduate, I could never have gotten up and talked for three minutes in front of a panel like this,” Gillam said. “You all are just amazing!”

NSSLHA Holds Battle of the Regions

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“The Hot Bagels” of Southern Louisiana University in Region 8, at center, respond to questions during the NSSLHA Battle of the Regions

Accompanied by exuberant cheers from their friends, 10 teams competed enthusiastically in the NSSLHA Battle of the Regions, part of a series of sessions and activities designed specifically for students. The three- to five-member teams, each representing one of the 10 NSSLHA regions, answered questions provided by ASHA’s special interest divisions on a variety of speech-language and audiology topics. The winning team—“Articugators” of The University of Florida (Region 3)—won more than just bragging rights, walking away with $1,000 in prize money. Runners-up included the second-place “Howard You Doin?” of Region 5’s Howard University ($750) and “The Hot Bagels” of Region 8’s Southern Louisiana University ($500).

Dynamic Learning Groups

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Dynamic Learning Group participants shared knowledge learned at the convention

Dynamic Learning Group (DLG) members gathered at the beginning and the end of the convention to enhance their learning experiences. In response to comments from previous years, ASHA established an online DLG forum so that participants could communicate before the convention, and about 75% of the 125 who signed up did so. Each DLG, which focused on a particular topic (e.g., health care, schools practice, autism, audiology, early intervention, multicultural issues, AAC, motor speech), formed learning goals, stayed in touch during the convention, and gathered at the close to share their knowledge and experiences.

Taking the Convention Back to Hawaii

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Joanne Oshiro and Yolanda Miller, who traveled to Philadelphia from Hawaii, enjoyed connecting with speech-language pathologists on the mainland

Joanne Oshiro, an SLP from Hawaii, commented that traveling 5,000 miles to Philadelphia was “definitely worth it,” both for the CEU opportunities and because “in Hawaii, we sometimes feel isolated, and it’s nice to be reminded that you’re part of a big professional organization.” She especially enjoys the poster sessions, she said, “because they answer specific questions I have—it’s like the research has been done for me.” Oshiro was accompanied by Yolanda Miller, president-elect of the Hawaii Speech-Language and Hearing Association, who appreciated learning about new products from exhibitors. “We take everything we learn back to our colleagues,” she noted.

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December 2010
Volume 15, Issue 15