Boston Rocks—Convention Draws More Than 13,000 Former ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee stepped into the spotlight at the ASHA awards ceremony to deliver one of the most powerful messages of the 2007 Convention—an eloquent story of the transformative power of communication services, both speech-language pathology and audiology. For ASHA members, it was ... ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage  |   December 01, 2007
Boston Rocks—Convention Draws More Than 13,000
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Hearing Disorders / Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage   |   December 01, 2007
Boston Rocks—Convention Draws More Than 13,000
The ASHA Leader, December 2007, Vol. 12, 1-18. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC.12172007.1
The ASHA Leader, December 2007, Vol. 12, 1-18. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC.12172007.1
Former ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee stepped into the spotlight at the ASHA awards ceremony to deliver one of the most powerful messages of the 2007 Convention—an eloquent story of the transformative power of communication services, both speech-language pathology and audiology. For ASHA members, it was a reminder that the discipline of communication sciences and disorders has a synergy that surpasses a profession-specific approach.
The Woodruffs received the “Annie”—the 2007 Annie Glenn Award, presented by Mrs. Glenn, who conquered a severe stutter, and her husband, former astronaut and senator John Glenn.
Although most of the 2,600 ASHA members in the audience expected to hear solely about Bob’s near-miraculous recovery from the traumatic brain injury incurred in Iraq, the Woodruffs instead began their riveting joint presentation by describing their journey in responding to their daughter Nora’s hearing loss.
A few months after the 2000 birth of their twin girls, Clair and Nora, the couple noticed that Nora was responding differently to sound from her sister Clair. “We knew there was a problem when she didn’t react when we snapped our fingers behind her head,” Bob said.
The Woodruffs, who lived in London at that time, learned that Nora had moderate to severe hearing loss.
“We decided that we needed a new definition of ‘normal’—whatever would make Nora her own person,” Lee said. She praised audiologists, who “were by our side every step of the way,” and speech-language pathologists who helped Nora develop speech. Now Nora is “mainstreamed, reading a lot, and jabbering all the time,” she said. In another surprise revelation, Lee said that her mother, now 75, was trained as an SLP.
Bob and Lee’s experience with their daughter’s hearing loss helped them when Bob was severely injured in Iraq in 2006—and had his own arduous journey regaining his ability to communicate. He was in a coma for 36 days.
“They told me he had extreme aphasia,” Lee said. “I knew speech was the most important part of his healing because, for Bob, his life has always been about words. But the speech-language pathologists were my mentors, my gods, my shamans.”
“I couldn’t speak at all. I lost words and names—even our kids’ names,” Bob told the audience. “That’s when I realized that I needed to go through what Nora did, and have the courage that she had in learning to hear and speak. She was my inspiration.”
“I had treatment six days a week,” he said. “It is a miracle that I can speak today. I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you—and keep up your wonderful work.”
Hot Topics and Intensive Learning
Boston is famous for its educational institutions, and for a week in mid-November, the ASHA Convention became an ad hoc university—with more than 1,400 seminars, short courses, lectures, technical sessions, roundtables, full-day conferences, poster sessions, meetings, and special events, and a colorful exhibit hall jammed with materials, the latest technology, job listings, endless giveaways, and—of course—free food.
Some sessions (on such topics as word-finding, cluttering, telegraphic speech, Asperger’s syndrome, autism and TBI, fluency, evidence-based reading instruction, teaching clients with cognitive impairments, and more) filled up, even in 300-seat rooms.
Nearly 300 school-based members attended the Schools Forum, discussing auditory processing disorders, collaboration, missed sessions, literacy, workload/caseload, service delivery models, and a host of other topics at more than 36 tables.
Emerging ASHA leaders gathered at the Convention to celebrate the Association’s inaugural Leadership Development Program. The 20 participants participated in various leadership mentoring activities, attended ASHA committee meetings, and reported to fellow classmates and Executive Board members on their leadership development projects.
On Saturday, the Ray Kent Symposium honored the work and contributions of one of ASHA’s beloved mentors. Several of Ray Kent’s former students—many of whom are now well-respected in the field—honored him by presenting a short course and four seminars in his area of expertise, complex speech sound disorders. Presenters at the Kent symposium included Edythe Strand, Joe Duffy, John Rosenbeck, Kathryn Yorkston, Kris Tjaden, Jan van Santen, Megan Hodge, Katherine Hustad, Robert Hillman, Eugene Buder, Dimitar Deliyski, Bruce Gerratt, and Jack Jiang.
ASHA’s Multicultural Issues Board held a Town Hall Meeting in which more than two dozen members shared ideas and concerns regarding multicultural issues in the discipline. Topics included available resources, assessment of bilingual populations, tension with early educators, relationships between monolingual and bilingual professionals, advocacy, and concerns about the PRAXIS exam. Members were encouraged to use ASHA’s Connecting to Colleagues discussion forums.
Opening Session
On Thursday evening, the opening session included a salute to the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association’s (NSSLHA) 35th anniversary. Nicole Borrelli and Mark Campbell, AuD students and NSSLHA members at Northeastern University, discussed the association’s milestones and introduced “Toxic Audio,” a high-octane a cappella group that demonstrated amazing vocal range by mimicking rock-band instruments, including bass, electric guitar, trombone, and drums.
Convention co-chairs Patricia Prelock (speech-language pathology) and Robert Burkard (audiology) joked about their personal differences but said, in the end, they worked very well together—like the professions in service of the broader discipline of CSD.
In her presidential address, Noma Anderson noted that Boston holds a special place in her heart since she earned a master’s degree at Emerson College. In keeping with the Boston convention theme, “Honoring the Past, Forging the Future,” Anderson reflected on the past year, and discussed ASHA’s evolution from its formation in 1925 to the Association’s move to a new national headquarters this month.
“This has been a great year of transition—one of the most exciting years for ASHA,” she said. Anderson described ASHA’s milestones in 2007 such as its leadership in the development of the new position statement by the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (for an excerpt of her address, see page 15).
Keynote speaker Erin Gruwell told the story captured in the recent feature film, “The Freedom Writers,” and her book of the same name. In 1994 Gruwell was an idealistic first-year English teacher in Long Beach, Calif., with 150 students deemed “unteachable.” When she passed out her syllabus, one student asked, “Why do we have to read about dead white guys in tights?”
This same student helped transform the class after he was the target of a racial slur. When a caricature of him circulated in the classroom, Gruwell compared it to a Nazi exaggeration of Jews during the Holocaust, and was shocked when the students didn’t know about that dark chapter of history. Yet when she asked how many students had been shot at, all raised their hands.
She introduced the class to Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo. Each student began to keep his or her own anonymous diary, recording stories of their lives and their reaction to Gruwell’s teaching methods.
Gruwell took a second part-time job so that she could provide the students with books and field trips not in the school budget. Gruwell has since set up the Freedom Writers Foundation. All her students have graduated from high school and are attending college.
The Convention included other events organized by the American Speech-Language Hearing Foundation; the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association; and special interest divisions (see sidebars for coverage of some of these events).
Audiology Highlights
More than 500 audiologists attended the Convention’s “Audiology at ASHA.” Daily keynote presentations were well-received and well-attended on topics such as emerging technologies; Doug Keefe and Mike Gorga reported on wideband reflectance measures of middle-ear functioning; and Bob Margolis presented on automated hearing tests. Ken Wolf, Don Morgan, and L. Clarke Cox led a discussion on the implications of these technologies for clinical practice. Laura Wilber covered the history of audiology.
Keynote presenter Melody Harrison discussed early intervention, and Sharon Cameron spoke about auditory streaming deficits in children with auditory processing disorders. Charlie Liberman and Sharon Kujawa presented on protection against acoustic injury for “tough and tender ears” related to injury susceptibility. Conrad Wall described emergent technologies aimed at creating a functionally useful vestibular prosthesi to help those with dizziness or balance problems. Neil Todd covered vestibular evoked (myogenic) potentials, and David Bergstrom discussed the molecular genetics of the vestibular NADPH oxidase.
The new position statement of the Joint Commission on Infant Hearing was unveiled at a special session on Thursday. The audiology reception that followed featured entertainment from Levi Reiter (Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.). Billing himself as the “Rapping Rabbi King,” Reiter performed a rap, “The AuD Blues.”
ASHA’s audiology division surveyed attendees related to their convention experience, and results will be reported in a future issue.
See You Next Year!
Next year ASHA moves to the Midwest for the 2008 Convention, which will be held in Chicago on Nov. 20–22, 2008.
Jessica Bowen, Joanne Jessen, and Maureen Thompson also contributed to this article.
ASHFoundation Hosts Fundraisers

by Beverly Ryan

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation held two gala events during Convention to raise money for scholarships, research grants, and clinical achievement awards for students and professionals in communication sciences and disorders.

On Nov. 15, more than 550 donors, award recipients, and friends joined the ASHFoundation for an evening of history and breathtaking views at the stunning John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. Attendees enjoyed exclusive access to the museum exhibits and gathered in the spectacular museum pavilion for casual networking, camaraderie, and food and drink. Delmar Cengage Learning provided corporate support for this event.

On Friday morning, Nov. 16, the ASHFoundation’s “Breakfast of Champions” honored 44 new awardees. The crowd of more than 300 donors, friends, and families cheered as the awardees entered, led by the Boston College cheerleaders, complete with orange pompoms.

To learn how to support the Foundation’s work, visit the ASHFoundation Web site.

Beverly Ryan, ASHFoundation annual fundraising manager, can be reached at

NSSLHA Marks Record Attendance

by Dawn Dickerson

NSSLHA’s 35th anniversary year ended on a high note—with record-breaking student attendance at the ASHA Convention in Boston.

Friday, Nov. 16—NSSLHA Day—began with the ASHFoundation announcing that more than $63,602 had been raised for the NSSLHA Scholarship Fund. The NSSLHA’s Executive Council reached its endowment in less than two years, led by donations from the Board of Division Coordinators, local NSSLHA chapters, and a number of ASHA members and staff.

The NSSLHA luncheon and awards ceremony hosted 400 student leaders from across the country. Sue Ingram, James Madison University, was honored as the NSSLHA Chapter Advisor of the Year, and the College of Misercorida was named as the NSSLHA Chapter of the Year. Several chapter recognition awards were presented to groups that exhibited outstanding chapter development in 2007, along with awards to Honors recipients and the winners of the student ethics essay contest. The big surprise of the luncheon were the more than 125 complimentary memberships in one of the 16 special interest divisions awarded to students and the four $500 scholarships awarded by PeopleFirst Rehab.

The NSSLHA luncheon also debuted a new fundraising t-shirt: “NSSLHA…We Fill in the Gaps,” designed by NSSLHA member Thor Rassmussen, a master’s student majoring in speech at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Rassmussen submitted the winning design through one of several 35th anniversary contests NSSLHA sponsored throughout the year. T-shirts may be purchased in the upcoming 2008 ASHA Products catalog beginning in January.

Students from Boston University served as the NSSLHA Day ambassadors during the day’s activities at the Westin Waterfront Hotel. NSSLHA is currently accepting applications from local chapters interested in hosting activities at the 2008 ASHA Convention in Chicago.

Dawn Dickerson, NSSLHA director of operations and staff liaison, can be reached at

Building Bridges

ASHA’s Legislative Council (LC), gathered for the last time at the Convention in Boston. On Jan. 1, 2008, the association will begin its transition to a new governance structure comprising a 16-member Board of Directors (BOD), an Audiology Advisory Council (AAC), and a Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Council (SLPAC).

At the LC’s Nov. 18 meeting, the LC unanimously approved the Association’s 2008 operating budget; discussed the association’s transition from a bicameral to unicameral governance structure; held caucuses on professional issues; and elected ASHA members to serve on several committees and councils.

In 2008, Mary Hooper will serve as chair of the SLPAC and Lisa O’Connor will serve as vice chair. George Purvis will serve as chair of the AAC, and Joe Montano will serve as vice chair. Both Advisory Council chairs will serve on the new BOD.

“Change is never easy; but it is necessary,” said President Noma Anderson. “As a result of the LC’s support of a new governance structure, ASHA will build bridges to a future that is truly just beginning.”

Did You Know?
Online Handouts From Convention Sessions

ASHA members who presented at the Boston Convention are still uploading handouts from their sessions.

To search for session handouts, go to 2007 ASHA Convention. New convention handouts are uploaded each day, so remember to check back!

If you have any questions about handouts, e-mail

Fun Facts From the Boston Convention

At the 2007 ASHA Convention:

  • President Noma Anderson was honored by The Harvard Foundation with a reception in her honor and the Harvard Foundation Medallion for her contributions to communication sciences and disorders and to intercultural relations.

  • Annie Glenn told ASHA members that she has carried a slip of paper with her for 21 years related to her struggle with speech fluency, which says, “Deep breath. Open throat. Keep sound going.”

  • The number of international attendees reached an all-time high—428 from 31 countries.

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December 2007
Volume 12, Issue 17