Lehman College’s Speech and Hearing Center of Bronx, NY, recently received a most remarkable renovation. What was once a small collection of speech therapy rooms and two-way mirrors is now one of the most high-tech speech pathology labs in the U.S. The innovative technology that the college brought on board is having an important impact on instructors, students, and patients.
The Speech and Hearing Center’s control room is adorned with multiple monitors, a touch screen control panel, and communication equipment – all part of a complex yet easy-to-use system that facilitates more efficient and effective training of speech pathology students. However, one of the system’s key components keeps a pretty low profile – the wireless Listen LS-04 Advanced Installed FM System.
Student therapists in the therapy rooms are equipped with the Listen LR-500 programmable body pack receiver with a pluggable earpiece. Because the equipment is discreetly worn by the student therapists, it does not become a distraction during the session.
The whole audiovisual system was designed by AV integrator IVCi LLC, and works like this. The wired therapy rooms are equipped with inconspicuous cameras and low profile plate microphones, which act as the digital “eyes and ears” of the room. These images and sounds are sent to the control station where an instructor monitors the session by watching the screens and listening through headphones. When correction or assistance is needed in the session, the instructor speaks into the microphone at the control station, which is then heard by the student therapist through the LR-500 receiver.
Thanks to ingenious design, one instructor can monitor several sessions at once, all from one spot. Before installing their elaborate AV system, which will accommodate up to 14 users, the instructors had to traverse corridors to monitor therapy sessions through two-way mirrors.
The instructor entered the room during the sessions to provide correction and feedback – a necessary learning tool and practice that unfortunately can disrupt the momentum.
Because Lehman College’s lab specializes in communication problems in children, interruptions cannot be underestimated.
One speech pathologist said children may sometimes misinterpret an instructor’s interruption and think that he/she did something wrong, which naturally may embarrass them. The disruptions also have the potential to undermine the credibility of the student therapist in the patient’s eyes, which could embarrass the student therapist and slow the patient’s progress.
With the Listen components, instructors can essentially “whisper” into the ear of the student therapist and provide real-time assistance without disrupting the flow of the session by entering the room. Thus, many of the “soft” risks are eliminated.
More importantly, having their new AV system means the instructors won’t miss opportunities to help students because they are away watching another session. They can manage all the sessions from one central control station. All of these innovations point to two important achievements for the college: better training for student therapists, and better outcomes for the patients.