Hearing and language group reaches out to other majors


A hoarse throat can be a nightmare for any acting or broadcast journalism major, but one Emerson organization is ready to help.

Emerson’s chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA), a small group of about 25 students, hopes to use discussion topics such as vocal hygiene and drama therapies to bring awareness to its student group. 

The Association’s president Elizabeth Lidov said the organization, made up of all communication sciences and disorders majors, has a goal this semester of gaining recognition for their department.

“People just don’t know what communication sciences and disorders is —not just on campus, but anywhere,” she said. “We want to create awareness, but also to be a part of Emerson campus and to have campus unity. We don’t want to feel like the black sheep of Emerson.” 

According to member Elizabeth McGreavy, the organization strives to work with other related campus causes such as Best Buddies, Jumpstart, American Sign Language Emerson, and the Communication Sciences and Disorders Journal Club. 

“We recognize that, as a small major, we are little known in the greater Emerson community and have struggled to identify common bonds we may have with future broadcast journalists, actors, directors, writers, or filmmakers,” McGreavy said in an email. “One of our chief goals of the spring semester is to get in touch with those outside of the communication disorders field and show the greater Emerson community who we are and how we can relate to them.” 

The round table discussions that  The Association plans to host will call upon students, faculty, and professionals to participate in the dialogue. 

According to McGreavy, potential discussion topics include vocal hygiene among actors and singers to prevent vocal fold nodules and polyps, which are growths on the vocal cords due to an over-straining of the voice. This discussion, she said, might appeal to musical theater, broadcast, and acting students. 

Another topic will be drama therapies for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders to show how and why these social-pragmatic enhancing techniques matter for students studying theater education. 

Lidov said she has also contacted local high schools to allow prospective students interested in the major to attend an information session.  

“We want to help get Emerson’s name out there,” said Lidov. “We want to show that we’re not just film and theater, we have a science side.”

In addition, The Association plans to team up with the LGBTQ organization Emerson’s Alliance for Gays, Lesbians, and Everyone (EAGLE) to increase awareness about American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA’s)research involving transgender voice training and perceptions of homosexuality based on voice, according to Lidov.

NSSLHA is a national association for students aspiring to professions in the field of communication sciences and disorders with over 200 chapters in universities nationwide, according to its website. 

Membership to this organization is the student pre-cursor to ASHA, which is the in-field networking organization that certifies researchers and professionals, according to Lidov. 

If The Assoication hosts the aforementioned events, it has the opportunity to be awarded a bronze medal by ASHA for its work furthering research and awareness on campus. 

“We hope that the events planned for this spring will be a big step forward in uniting the greater Emerson community and will encourage better partnership between communication disorders students and those pursuing other majors,” said McGreavy.