9,000 Strong Join the Odyssey in New Orleans This was a Convention like no other. The 9,000 ASHA members who came to New Orleans for this year’s ASHA Convention, 2001: A Professional Odyssey, were there for the same reasons they attend every year — to listen, to learn, to network, to enjoy seeing old friends and meeting new ... ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage  |   December 01, 2001
9,000 Strong Join the Odyssey in New Orleans
Author Notes
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage   |   December 01, 2001
9,000 Strong Join the Odyssey in New Orleans
The ASHA Leader, December 2001, Vol. 6, 1-12. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC.06222001.1
The ASHA Leader, December 2001, Vol. 6, 1-12. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC.06222001.1
This was a Convention like no other. The 9,000 ASHA members who came to New Orleans for this year’s ASHA Convention, 2001: A Professional Odyssey, were there for the same reasons they attend every year — to listen, to learn, to network, to enjoy seeing old friends and meeting new ones. And, because this was New Orleans, there was also fabulous food and music, perfect weather, riverboats on the mighty Mississippi, and the exciting life of one of America’s great cities to savor. So, mostly, it was business — and pleasure — as usual.
But there were differences between this year and every other year. Everything, as we all know too well, has been colored by Sept. 11 — including the events of the ASHA Convention.
There was camaraderie among attendees that could be felt even more palpably at this year’s Convention than in the past. After the horrors that occurred a short two months earlier — and two days earlier, with the crash of Flight 587 — the ASHA Convention took on a heightened importance to those who attended. People connected with each other and with their professions more closely and more intensely somehow. ASHA President John Bernthal, recognizing the changed spirit among members, based his presidential address at the Convention’s Opening Session on the “unsung heroes” among us.
New Heroes
Bernthal noted how “The events of September 11 tragically demonstrated our vulnerability to terrorism on our own soil. But, ironically, these events also created a heightened sense of unity and a newfound patriotism. And they made us redefine our old concepts of heroism.” Our new hero, he went on to say, is far from Hollywood’s old larger-than-life figure. “The last two months have taught us that real heroes are ordinary people. They are police officers, fire fighters, office workers, and day care workers who, in the course of doing their jobs, became heroes.”
And they are the ASHA members that Bernthal pointed out — Air Force Maj. Janet Deltuva, who was at the Pentagon on Sept. 11 and spent the day helping the wounded and assisting at whatever task was asked of her; Gail Neustadt, a consultant and reviewer for ASHA in the area of Medicare reimbursement for speech-language pathologists; Joanne Schupbach, an audiologist who is a member of ASHA’s Health Care Economics Committee; Patti Bellini, Rhode Island’s State Education Advocacy Leader; Sally Walsh, the Arizona state coordinator for the National Outcomes Measurement System; Katie Schwartz, an entrepreneur with a business that focuses on corporate speech-language pathology; Mark Krumm, who is working on a telehealth project to provide audiology services to pediatric populations, rural school systems, individuals with developmental disabilities, and support for early interventionists and public health nurses; Harold Powell, who has been a mentor to minority students and professionals; and Wanda Essex, a retiree from Nebraska who has been closely involved with the activities of her state association.
“ASHA is enriched by all of its unsung heroes,” Bernthal concluded. “You are the heroes.”
The Convention also had its celebrities — former first lady Barbara Bush, who spoke at the Opening Session about literacy’s place on the national agenda, and Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who received ASHA’s Media Award in Appreciation for International Communications. Matlin received her honor at the Awards Ceremony, where ASHA’s best were recognized. These included Honorees Moya L. Andrews, Nicholas W. Bankson, David R. Beukelman, Elizabeth Carrow-Woolfolk, Laurence Baker Leonard, Robert Martin Screen, and Joel Stark. ASHA’s Fellows were also honored, as were its many award recipients.
At the Opening Session, Bush — who, at 76, she noted, is the same age as ASHA — thanked the members in the standing-room-only audience for their fine contributions in the area of communication disorders. She is especially grateful for their work, she said, because “George Bush — that would be my husband, #41 — can’t hear worth a darn anymore,” although she admitted that that may be, at least in part, by choice, since his hearing seems to suffer most when the whole family gets together. On a more serious note, Bush discussed the events of Sept. 11, thanking the audience for coming to New Orleans because “We cannot and we should not live in fear.”
She also discussed her literacy initiative — Bush is honorary chairwoman of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, whose mission is to establish literacy as a value in the American family. Bush discussed her belief that literacy can prevent many of our social problems. “Illiteracy leads to ignorance that leads to poverty that leads to unhappiness and hopelessness,” she said.
At the Awards Ceremony, Matlin, who signed most of her speech, revealed that she contracted roseola when she was 18 months old, causing profound hearing loss in one ear and total deafness in the other. With the support of her family, she attended public school and thrived, she said, using sign language, oral speech, and lipreading. Her first acting role was in the stage version of “Children of a Lesser God,” the film version of which won her the Oscar in 1987 when she was 21 years old, making her the youngest recipient ever of the award.
Matlin continues to act, most recently in a recurring role on television’s Emmy Award-winning “The West Wing.” She also continues to be grateful for her success and knows that part of it is owing to the efforts of audiologists and SLPs. “It’s true that my life is defined by the fact that I’m deaf,” she told the audience, “but without people like you, I couldn’t have achieved my dreams. I just want to say thank you to each and every one of you. Your work is encouraging another potential Marlee out there — someone who has a dream just as I had and still have today.”
This Convention was different from past ones as well because it was actually two conventions — SLPs and audiologists met separately but came together for discipline-wide sessions, allowing for the best of all possible professional worlds.
The Audiology Convention had three distinguished keynote speakers: Harvey Dillon of the National Acoustic Laboratories in Chatswood, Australia, presented the Denis Byrne Memorial Lecture; Peter Dallos of Northwestern University spoke on cochlear neurobiology; and Arthur Boothroyd of the City University of New York discussed “Auditory Management of Early Identified Children With Hearing Loss: The Child, The Family, and the Audiologist.”
Other Convention highlights included a NSSLHA Night in New Orleans, a French Quarter Scavenger Hunt; the Meet the Mentors Breakfast; the New Investigator Roundtable; and a very successful ASHA Placement Center/Job Fair.
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Comment Title

This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
December 2001
Volume 6, Issue 22