Connecting With Colleagues Online School-based SLP Develops Website for Sharing Advice, Ideas In the Limelight
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In the Limelight  |   December 01, 2010
Connecting With Colleagues Online
Author Notes
  • Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.
    Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / In the Limelight
In the Limelight   |   December 01, 2010
Connecting With Colleagues Online
The ASHA Leader, December 2010, Vol. 15, 37. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.15152010.37
The ASHA Leader, December 2010, Vol. 15, 37. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.15152010.37
Name: Pat Mervine, MA, CCC-SLP
Title: Speech-language pathologist, Bucks County (Pa.) Intermediate Unit #22; website owner
Pat Mervine, CCC-SLP, sits with her dog, Opal, who usually “supervises” Mervine as she works nightly on her website, www.speakingofspeech.com.
When you have a good idea, apparently there’s no stopping it. That’s the lesson school-based speech-language pathologist Pat Mervine of Bucks County, Pa., learned eight years ago when she launched the website Speaking of Speech.com. The idea started out innocently and locally enough—create a website for the staff of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit. The number of staff members was growing so quickly and staff meetings were becoming difficult to schedule, so having a website to use as a collaboration tool would fill the void, Mervine thought.
“It seemed like good timing, too, because we had all just been given laptops and were kind of new to computers,” she said. “A website would give us an excuse to explore and use them more.”
Although she had never built a website before, she had a pretty clear vision for what was needed: a site where her teammates could post questions and others could respond with intervention ideas. She didn’t want to make it a membership-based site, nor did she want to have any advertising. She just wanted pure unfiltered advice and ideas. Within a month after the site launched, the Princeton Review picked it up and touted it as a good resource for aspiring speech-language pathology students. After that, the floodgates opened.
“I had clinicians e-mailing me from all over the world!” Mervine said. “I had one SLP e-mail me from Alaska, another from Gibraltar…I was getting e-mails from countries I couldn’t spell or find on a map!”
Since its inception, the website has had more than 3 million hits and SLPs from all over the world are seeking or giving advice. Often the information-seekers are from rural areas where there is not much opportunity to collaborate with other professionals. One of these SLPs told Mervine that her website was like having “a virtual staff meeting.”
This journey isn’t the first time Mervine has followed her inspiration. As a young adult, Mervine witnessed her beloved uncle suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and lose his ability to speak. The once-gregarious family member became marginalized as family members and even his doctors—who didn’t know how to communicate with him—”talked around him, but not to him.”
Mervine knew there had to be a better way. She was at a point in her education at which she had to choose a major and, inspired by her compassion for her uncle, chose speech-language pathology and specialized in assistive technology. “You could see how painful it was for him to be left out because he couldn’t communicate,” she said. “I wanted to learn how to help him and others like him.”
And that’s the same sentiment Mervine has for her website. Even though the time and expense of website maintenance continue to grow, Mervine stays true to her original intent: Just get the information out there for others to use and share.
“Every time I think about giving this up, I read through the message boards and learn so much!” Mervine said. “I love seeing what people post and I am constantly reminded about how many good ideas there are out there. The SLPs who visit the site are so generous and supportive of one another, and countless students around the world benefit from that.”
Contact Pat Mervine at pat@speakingofspeech.com.
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December 2010
Volume 15, Issue 15