Frequently Asked Questions about the Department of Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences.

What kinds of activities take place in the Department of Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences (HSLS)?

The department has multiple, interrelated, complimentary goals and responsibilities within the University and in the external community.

The department:

  • Provides graduate training in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
  • Offers a range of services to the Gallaudet and metropolitan DC communities aimed at enhancing communication,
  • Offers undergraduate courses that meet the undergraduate Heritage and Self-Awareness requirement.
  • Offers graduate courses in audiology and amplification to students in the education, counseling, social work, and psychology departments.
  • Supports research aimed at early identification of hearing loss, enhancement of residual hearing, assistive technologies, and computerized strategies for improving speech production by deaf children.

What is the Department's orientation towards deafness?

Students learn about deafness from a biological, social, and cultural perspective. A unique aspect of Gallaudet's programs is the central role that both ASL and Deaf culture play in student learning. This sets Gallaudet's programs apart from the Audiology and Speech-Language Sciences programs at other Universities. The Deaf-centric philosophy of the Department provides opportunities for Deaf people to shape future directions for the discipline.

What degrees are offered?

The Department offers three degrees - the M.S. Degree in Speech-Language Pathology, the Clinical doctoral degree in Audiology - Au.D and the Ph.D. degree in Hearing Speech and Language Sciences. The M.S. and Au.D. degrees are considered the entry level degrees required for those planning to become speech-language pathologists and audiologists.

How many students are in the Department?

As of October, 2011, the Department has 76 full-time students, including 25students in the SLP program, 41 in the Au.D. program, and 10 in the Ph.D. program. In addition the Department offers courses to undergraduate and graduate students outside of the Department. In a typical year there are over 100 students taking these courses.

Where do graduates of these programs work after they graduate?

Audiology graduates may find themselves in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, private practices, and schools. Many speech-language pathologists are employed in schools where they work with deaf and hearing children. Others may find themselves in hospital or extended care settings where they work with a variety of clients, including those who are deaf. Currently there are graduates from the HSLS Department at the American School for the Deaf, Kendall, Maryland School for the Deaf, California School for the Deaf in Fremont, the Learning Center, The River School, and many other programs for deaf children throughout the country.

How many faculty are in HSLS?

The Department currently has 10 faculty members. In addition, there are 10 audiologists and speech language pathologists on staff. These professionals provide audiological, speech language science communication diagnostic and habilitation services through the Hearing and Speech Center. The Department's professional staff also supervises the practicum of graduate students.

How many support staff are in HSLS?

The Department has an executive and administrative secretary who handle all of the academic and financial areas of the department, one secretary who handles all of the client contacts in the Hearing and Speech Center, and a biller/coder handling the insurance transactions for the HSC. There are also a number of full and part time research staff that are supported by grants awarded to faculty within the Department. In addition, there is an engineer responsible for maintaining all of the research and clinical technology within the Department.

Does the Department have externally funded research or training grants?

Yes, there are a number of federally funded research and personnel preparation grants underway. These grants have been developed and submitted by individual faculty within the Department (7 of the current 10 faculty were involved in writing these grants), and total nearly $1.9 million annually. The bulk of the personnel preparation funds are used to support graduate students.

What takes place in the Hearing and Speech Center?

The Center contains a number of programs aimed at providing both hearing and deaf clients on campus and in the Washington metropolitan area with support and training aimed at improving communication skills. There are three programs within the center: Diagnostic Audiology Services, Communication Diagnostic and Habilitation Services (aural rehabilitation), and Speech-language therapy services. There are nearly 5,000 client contacts in the Center each year.

Who delivers the services that are provided in the Hearing and Speech Center?

Often services are delivered by supervised graduate students. This provides these students with extensive experience with deaf and hard of hearing clients that uniquely prepares our graduates for working with members of the deaf community. There are also occasions when staff audiologists or speech-language pathologists provide services. These are experienced individuals with a broad range of speech, hearing, language and communication expertise needed to serve individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Does the Hearing and Speech Center offer services to people who are not deaf?

Yes. The Center offers Speech-Language services to hearing clients. The clients are often the children of Gallaudet employees or students, as well as clients from the community around Gallaudet. This is an underserved community that relies on the Hearing and Speech Center to be able to receive services. Therapy is provided to help children with articulation problems, specific language deficits, as well as children and adults with fluency problems or voice disorders. In addition the Center provides therapy for adults who have had a stroke or other neurological damage that affects speech and language abilities.

Can Deaf people enter the professions of Audiology or Speech-Language Pathology?

Gallaudet has had a number of deaf and hard of hearing graduates in the past. It is part of our mission to make the professions of audiology and speech-language science as accessible as possible for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Gallaudet graduates are breaking new ground in the audiology profession and depathologizing hearing, speech and language sciences.

Do people in HSLS sign?

Yes. All students are required to complete an American Sign Language (ASL) sequence. Students are required to take a sequence of courses that focus on the use of American Sign Language in working with deaf clients. These tailored classes provide students with discipline-specific signs that are unique to audiology and speech-language sciences. These classes also provide students with praxis in communicating information that is often associated with speech and hearing assessments. These courses are team-taught by a deaf professional and an audiologist or speech-language scientist.

What kind of research is conducted in HSLS?

There are a variety of research projects that have been initiated in the department. One project involved development and assessment of a computer program that employs ASL to promote speech and reading in deaf children. The Rehabilitation Engineering and Research Center (RERC) is a funded center whose goal is to conduct research programs that provide technological solutions for accessibility. A variety of other projects have been aimed at examining the language characteristics of deaf children, strategies for early detection of hearing loss, and studies examining ways of assessing balance disorders associated with deafness.

Are HSLS faculty/staff/students involved with the campus community?

Yes. Faculty in HSLS are leaders in faculty governance. For example, two faculty members are currently members of the Faculty Senate where one serves as Secretary of the Faculty Senate. Two other faculty members are former Chairs of the Council on Graduate Education. Staff members have been involved with the staff advisory committee, and students from the department have served as officers of the Graduate Student Association.

Our graduate students live in the same dorms as students in other programs. They have the same opportunities to engage in the Gallaudet community as other graduate students, and are able to immerse themselves in an Gallaudet's environment rich in Deaf culture and its language - ASL. .

Are HSLS faculty involved with their professions?

HSLS faculty are all leaders in their respective fields. For example, one faculty member is past-president of the Council on Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders which represents 250 colleges and universities. Another was on the task force of the American Speech Hearing and Language Association that developed Aural Habilitation Guidelines for Audiologists. A third faculty member was on the American Academy of Audiology Task Force that developed competencies for educational audiologists that included specific aural habilitation knowledge and skills. Another is past president of the Special Interest Group in Reading and Deafness of the International Reading Association. Numerous other faculty have been active is various professional organizations, which has brought national recognition to the University.

How are Gallaudet's graduate programs viewed by those at other Universities?

Gallaudet's Audiology and Speech-Language Sciences programs are ranked among the best in the country according to the US News and World Reports annual survey of Graduate programs. In the most recent national ranking by program directors at other Universities, Gallaudet's Audiology program was ranked 29th, and the Speech Language Pathology program was ranked 35th. These rankings are out of nearly 300 graduate programs that exist in audiology and speech-language sciences.

How Do Gallaudet's programs compare to national averages in Praxis scores?

Praxis results

What is the on-time graduation rate for Gallaudet's HSLS programs?

The average on-time graduation rate for the last three years was 80% for Audiology and 89.2% for Speech-Language Pathology. 

What is the employment rate in the profession for Gallaudet HSLS graduates?

The average post-graduation employment rate for the last three years is 100% for Audiology graduates and 97% for Speech-Language Pathology graduates.

Why is HSLS being included in the SLCC?

Dr. Robert Davila, the current president of Gallaudet, has summarized the importance of HSLS's role in the new Language and Communication Center in a video presentation to campus:

"Some people have wondered what role the Hearing Speech and Language Sciences Department, HSLS, will have being in the same building with ASL and Deaf Studies.

We envision that the SLCC will represent a shift in thinking about deaf people and their language. Deaf people have always resisted the application of medical models to the use of their language and their way of life. HSLS at Gallaudet does not endorse this view of the application of medical models. In fact, HSLS is a progressive department that encourages their students to learn ASL and be able to effectively interact and communicate with people in the deaf community.

Therefore, the SLCC represents a truly exceptional opportunity to position the speech sciences directly within an ASL environment. So, for example, parents who bring their children for audiological screening and testing will enter a beautiful, visually-rich building full of people using ASL. This view of the experiences available within this building will lead them to a more positive understanding of the cognitive, psychological, and social benefits of ASL."

Who do I contact if I have any more questions? (Or what do I do if I have additional questions?

For additional information you can call the Department at 202 651 5329, or contact the chair by email at matthew.bakke@gallaudet.edu

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