Gold Coast Shines for ASHA Convention Street banners near the Miami Beach Convention Center read, “Welcome to Paradise-ASHA.” And paradise it was for more than 9,500 attendees—sunshine, palm trees, sandy beaches—and CEUs. Attendees could choose from more than 1,400 educational sessions, including clinical workshops, the annual research symposium, short courses, and posters. Audiologists were offered keynote ... ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage  |   December 01, 2006
Gold Coast Shines for ASHA Convention
Author Notes
  • Dee Naquin Shafer, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at
    Dee Naquin Shafer, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at×
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School-Based Settings / ASHA News & Member Stories / International & Global / ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage   |   December 01, 2006
Gold Coast Shines for ASHA Convention
The ASHA Leader, December 2006, Vol. 11, 1-14. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC1.11172006.1
The ASHA Leader, December 2006, Vol. 11, 1-14. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC1.11172006.1
Street banners near the Miami Beach Convention Center read, “Welcome to Paradise-ASHA.” And paradise it was for more than 9,500 attendees—sunshine, palm trees, sandy beaches—and CEUs.
Attendees could choose from more than 1,400 educational sessions, including clinical workshops, the annual research symposium, short courses, and posters. Audiologists were offered keynote addresses each day, along with separate education sessions (see page 5 for more details).
ASHA’s Special Interest Divisions offered five pre-convention clinical workshops on Nov. 15. Topics included fostering morphological awareness and literacy acquisition, laryngeal imaging, treatment for stuttering in school-age children and teens, counseling skills for difficult conversations, and reconsideration of sociolinguistic differences in speech-language pathology.
The annual Researcher-Academic Town Meeting held Wednesday night focused on the pressing issue of doctoral shortages. “Thinking out of the box” was the theme of presentations by a three-person panel: Julie Masterson reported on a Missouri program that uses science fairs and pairing with researchers to interest high school students in the discipline; Patricia Cole emphasized the importance of mentoring in the retention of PhD students; and Christy Ludlow challenged programs to partner with other disciplines, such as neuroscience and genetics, to create joint faculty appointments. Ludlow pointed out that CSD programs are attractive to other disciplines because of good funding, faculty shortages, and fascinating cross-disciplinary research questions.
After the presentations, audience members offered ideas such as the importance of reaching out to clinicians who have an interest in research and creating a “direct-to-PhD” option for graduate students.
The first day of the Convention featured the New Investigator Roundtable and the 16th Annual Research Symposium. This year’s theme, which encompassed four sessions, was “Issues of Development and Plasticity of the Auditory System.” The symposium also included a display of posters from minority student travel award recipients.
Attendees filled up the 27 short courses held during the Convention. Topics included cultural issues and AAC, assessment strategies for bilingual/second language learners, progressive degenerative communication disorders in older adults, innovative dysphagia screenings for stroke patients, childhood apraxia of speech, supervision, neuroplasticity and auditory processing disorders, polytrauma, funding for speech-generating devices, and more.
The party started on Thursday night at the Opening Ceremony with a bit of Brazilian Carnival. Half a dozen feathered, bikini-clad dancers glittered under the spotlights as musicians played drums and island music.
ASHA President Alex Johnson officially welcomed the attendees and introduced the 2006 Executive Board. He recognized the international contingent at the convention, noting that 37 countries were represented. Johnson then thanked his colleagues at Wayne State University and his family for their help during his term as ASHA president.
“To paraphrase former ASHA President John Bernthal, my family has never let me take myself too seriously and that is good for all of us,” he said.
A video about the ASHFoundation and its work came next, after which Johnson introduced 2006 Convention Co-Chairs Al De Chicchis and Lynn Flahive.
Johnson’s presidential address paid tribute to ASHA members. The service of the professions puts the focus on others, he said.
“I want to focus on you,” he added. “I’m humbled by the work that you do and the care you bring to your profession. What you do is critical because the world can’t grow without communication.”
He went on to deliver a “State of the Association” update, noting that dues would not increase and that membership growth was strong. He welcomed future leadership and praised members’ work in evidence-based practice. Johnson drew cheers and a standing ovation at the conclusion, when he predicted a future with adequate funding to the professions for research and reimbursement.
Keynote speaker James Earl Jones stuttered as a young boy. For years the now-legendary actor refused to speak more than a few words at a time and pretended to be mute in school. He has credited a high school teacher with helping him out of silence. The teacher, who learned that Jones wrote poetry, believed forced public speaking would help Jones gain confidence and insisted he recite a poem in class each day. Jones did not refer to his personal history during the address to ASHA members, focusing instead on wider issues of history and of culture.
“It’s something we all have in common—and it’s something none of us have in common,” he said. “Culture is constantly reinventing itself. Culture is constantly reinventing us.”
Awards Ceremony
Awards Chair Ninevah Murray introduced eight Honorees, 30 Fellows, and 28 special awardees to standing ovations at the Awards Ceremony Friday night. “These members have demonstrated a lifetime of innovation, determination, and dedication to ASHA and to the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology,” Murray said.
In addition, videos aired featuring the Honors winners: Kathryn A. Bayles, Lucille B. Beck, Joseph R. Duffy, John A. Ferraro, George H. Shames, Neil T. Shepard, Sadanand Singh, and Ida J. Stockman (see the Nov. 7 ASHA Leader for more about the honorees).
Keynote speaker and Annie Glenn Award recipient Vonetta Flowers won a gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Flowers and her husband Johnny are parents of twin boys, Jaden and Jorden. Jorden, who was born deaf, received an auditory brainstem implant in Italy.
Flowers said she knew her son could have a productive life without hearing, but wanted to give him the chance to hear. In a compelling address, she spoke of the importance of communication and how Jorden heard for the first time two weeks after the surgery when the implant was turned on.
Schools Forum
More than 300 members attended the Schools Forum, which began with updates from members of ASHA’s Executive Board. In a keynote, Alexa Posny, director of the Office of Special Education (OSE) Programs of the Department of Education, discussed the importance of technology to the so-called “Millennial Generation,” those born after 1981.
“These children do 92% of their homework online—but less than 50% of teachers assign homework online,” she said.
Greater exposure to technology can result in greater exposure to literacy. But the family experience is a key factor for children, she said. Posny cited a study showing that in a professional family, children experience per hour 2,153 words, 32 affirmations, and five prohibitions. A working-class child experiences per hour 1,251 words, 12 affirmations, and seven prohibitions. A child in a family receiving public assistance experiences per hour 616 words, five affirmations and 11 prohibitions.
After the presentation, attendees gathered at 37 roundtables for discussions on a wide range of topics, facilitated by experts in the field. Topics included augmentative communication teams in schools, auditory processing disorder intervention, fluency intervention, workload, and many other issues.
Some attendees had the opportunity to speak with Posny, who facilitated a roundtable discussion on the IDEA regulations. Participants discussed the difficulty in providing services to children who may have language difficulties simply because they are disadvantaged economically—not because they need special education. Another concern is that children could benefit by starting language work in pre-school, rather than waiting for elementary school.
All at the table agreed that reporting requirements and large caseloads take time away from children who need speech-language pathology services. Although more states are passing salary supplements for SLPs, at some point money is not the answer, agreed the participants. Instead, more professionals are needed. They asked how SLPs can accomplish the required paperwork and still spend sufficient time with children. Many SLPs are leaving the field. Posny urged the participants to provide data that OSE can use to support making the paperwork less onerous.
“You have to become the voice [for change],” Posny said. “We need the data from you. The bottom line is the outcomes for children.”
Other Highlights
At the Legislative Council’s Membership Forum on Saturday morning, Sherry Curtiss, president of the North Carolina Speech, Hearing & Language Association, asked that ASHA not abandon the advocacy of reimbursement for speech-language pathology assistants. “Health care assistants are allowed to do more for swallowing disorders than SLPAs,” she said. (More information about the Legislative Council meeting will appear in the Jan. 23 ASHA Leader.)
Nearly 300 attendees attended the ASHFoundation’s annual Founders Breakfast, which included a keynote address by Leonard Lapointe and the presentation of awards and $200,000 in funding to 48 individuals, including students, researchers, and clinicians.
At the NSSLHA Luncheon, the Nova Southeastern Univerity NSSLHA chapter delivered a surprise to attendees when it donated its host chapter honorarium of $1,000 back to the ASHFoundation in support of the NSSLHA Scholarship Fund. ASHFoundation President Dennis Hampton and Executive Director Nancy Minghetti accepted this special gift in gratitude to all chapter members for this support. The Scholarship Fund has a goal of $50,000; chapters across the country have joined with the NSSLHA Executive Council to raise $34,000 to date as part of the “NSSLHA Loves” campaign.
At the Graduate School Fair, ASHA previewed its new online search engine, EdFind. This component of the Higher Education Data System replaces the Online Guide to Graduate Education. ASHA staff showed users how to navigate through its many features, including the ability to search and locate master’s and doctoral programs based on specific features, such as funding opportunities, research interests, area of study, location, and doctoral degree type. The new search engine will be available through the ASHA Web site in early 2007 to students from high school through doctoral-level programs, faculty, ASHA members, consumers, and the general public. More information is available on ASHA to Launch EdFind.
The Convention ended Saturday with a closing sunset party at Nikki Beach, South Beach Miami. Despite the slightly chilly temperatures in the 60s, attendees reveled in the tropical setting. Next year will bring the Convention to Boston, Nov. 15–17.
ASHA Convention Online
Virtual Resources Available Post-Convention

If you missed the ASHA Convention this year, don’t despair. For those who attended the convention—and those who didn’t—a wealth of convention-related materials is online as a member resource.

  • Convention handouts—materials for 576 convention sessions, including PowerPoint slides for convention sessions, presentation outlines, and supplemental materials. These valuable resources in current topics in communications sciences and disorders provide contact with leaders in the field.

  • ASHA Virtual Exhibit Hall and Bookstore—a searchable exhibit hall

  • Convention and conference session report system—ASHA members can track convention activities for continuing education. Visit

  • The Breathe Program—get valuable information on health risks associated with stress, as well as healthy techniques to cope with stress. Visit The Breathe Center for articles on the topic. This program is a continuation of the “Listen to Your Heart” program, which debuted in 2005.

  • Listen to Your Heart—ASHA introduced this health-related program in 2005 to raise awareness of heart disease among women. Visit Listen to Your Heart to review articles on this important topic.

Visit the ASHA Convention headquarters online.

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December 2006
Volume 11, Issue 17