Meet the ASHA 2015 Media Outreach Champions ASHA honors these four members for their notable efforts to raise awareness of speech and hearing issues through local and national media. Spreading the Word
Spreading the Word  |   December 01, 2015
Meet the ASHA 2015 Media Outreach Champions
Author Notes
  • Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager.
    Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / ASHA News & Member Stories / Spreading the Word
Spreading the Word   |   December 01, 2015
Meet the ASHA 2015 Media Outreach Champions
The ASHA Leader, December 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/
The ASHA Leader, December 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/
From taking on loud stadium noise at professional football games to speaking up to reduce negative stereotypes, the 2015 ASHA Member Media Outreach Champions brought the professions to the forefront—and made a difference.
Situated around the country and each with their own professional interests, the four ASHA honorees also serve as models for their fellow ASHA members.
Nancy Alarcon, MS, CCC-SLP
In Seattle, fans of the Seattle Seahawks, the local professional football team, are encouraged to make stadium noise levels as loud as possible. The situation prompted Alarcon, director of the Speech and Hearing Clinic at the University of Washington, to start spreading the word about hearing safety.
“I thought about how we, our Speech and Hearing Clinic, could help advance a message to the community about hearing protection,” Alarcon recalls. She now serves as a media source on local Seattle TV station programs and radio outlets, as well as for the NPR national health blog, Shots.
This fall, she authored a hearing protection opinion piece that appeared in the Seattle Times—a piece that spurred a local television station to do a story featuring an audiologist from the clinic.
Alarcon describes her media experiences as “incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time… I really wanted the right message to be put forward whether it was an interview for TV or print, but I realized that I couldn’t really control the end product. I had to focus on the message I wanted to convey,” she says.
To anyone thinking about becoming a media source, Alarcon advises, “Jump in; stick your neck out there and speak up—speak up on behalf of those we serve or speak up on issues you feel the public should understand.”
Joseph Donaher, PhD, CCC-SLP
Donaher, academic and research program director at the Center for Childhood Communication at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is honored for his work as a media source in several publications, including USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. The articles aimed to increase public understanding of stuttering and people who stutter.
“I was advocating for the children and families I treat in an effort to reduce negative stereotypes and misunderstandings frequently held by teachers, parents and the general public,” he explains.
Donaher says he always searches for ways to spread the ASHA message. “I used every opportunity to better educate the general public about what speech-language pathologists do. Knowledge is power and a better-informed public can be a powerful tool against bullying, stereotypes and discrimination.”
Donaher adds that “it is always exciting to be involved with media coverage,” and suggests to anyone getting started as a media source to first “become vocal on topics that interest you. Take advantage of opportunities to interact with peers on ASHA’s Community page and on the various sites commonly used by our profession.”
Lauren Barnett, MA, CCC-SLP
Barnett, a Florida-based SLP in private practice, actively raises public awareness on a number of fronts. Two years ago, she served as a local subject expert for ASHA’s Identify the Signs campaign. At the 2014 ASHA Convention, she stepped up again, doing interviews with local Orlando broadcast stations on early identification.
In addition, Barnett kept on championing Identify the Signs through her blog She also writes about activities and games families can do at home to help develop their children’s speech and language skills.
Barnett encourages other ASHA members to follow suit. “You might be the first speech-language pathologist the public encounters who points them in the direction they need to go to find out more information and get the help they need.”
“When we go out and present information or resources,” she adds, “we potentially motivate an unknown number of families get the early intervention and help they need to improve communication skills.”
Richard Tyler, PhD, CCC-A
Tyler, professor of otolaryngology at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine, takes every opportunity he can to explain the importance of hearing and safe listening.
In recent years, he served as a media source for a number of different posts and articles on excessive stadium noise, tinnitus and other hearing-related issues or conditions.This past year, he published an editorial in the Des Moines Register warning of the risk of potential hearing loss from misuse of personal audio technology.
“Hearing loss is not just about not hearing people, environmental sounds and music,” Tyler says. “It’s about not being able to interact with others, sharing good times and challenges.”
He adds that ASHA members play a significant role informing the public, media and their own friends and family about the importance of hearing and safe listening. “We need to do a better job explaining how important hearing is.”
Want to get involved? Sign up to become an ASHA media source—you could be our next media outreach champion.
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December 2015
Volume 20, Issue 12