BBS Alumni Organizing Speech, Hearing Program in China
A UT Dallas graduate is leading a team of communication specialists in an effort to expand treatment opportunities for the estimated 20 million Chinese people who suffer from speech and hearing disorders.
From left: BBS Dean Bert Moore, Dr. Lucy Liu, Wendy Lee and Callier Center Executive Director Thomas Campbell.
Dr. Lucy Liu, who earned a master’s degree in communication sciences at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), is chief executive of the Dallas-based Bethel Hearing and Speaking Training Center. She and fellow UT Dallas alumna Wendy Lee, who also earned a master’s from BBS and is vice president of Bethel, recently led a team of speech-language pathologists to provide training and therapy at several research, medical and educational centers in China.
Liu, who also met with patients during the trip, is working with UT Dallas to initiate a pilot training program to develop a cadre of professionals in speech-language pathology. The Bethel team is planning to establish its first teaching clinic in Chengdu by the beginning of 2014.
“In this age of the global economy, it is vital for top universities to be involved in global development of their areas of expertise,” said Liu, who also works as an instructor at UT Dallas.
“Global exposure is necessary for the ‘Y’ generation’s educational experience. The Chinese government is becoming aware of the need to develop medical care in audiology and speech-language pathology. This is a great opportunity to be one of the leading universities in this field working with Chinese entities to facilitate advancements.”
Liu, who is a native of China, said she wants to increase awareness of speech-language disorders and treatment options and demonstrate to Chinese government officials how patients can benefit from emerging therapies. She wants to establish a program that can accurately assess urgent-care cases and help Chinese health professionals reach out to patients most in need of communication-related therapy.
Liu has formed an assessment development team. They are developing the first standardized pediatric Mandarin language assessment in collaboration with China’s Research and Rehabilitation Center for Deaf Children, Tongren Hospital (among China’s leading hospitals for otolaryngology) and Tianjin Normal University’s linguistic department. The Mandarin language assessments would be part of the evaluation process for children who need audiological intervention, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants.
“The responses from the parents of the patients we evaluated while we were in China were overwhelming,” she said. “When we had the hands-on training for the largest military hospital in Beijing, parents from surrounding cities brought their children and waited for hours to get a turn. We were in that hospital for two days and the hospital had to tell the parents that we could not see any more patients. That was one of the hardest experiences.”
Only three universities in China offer speech-language or audiology education. Liu said Chinese healthcare officials seem eager to improve training for their staffs. She was invited over the summer to present at China’s annual conference on audiology and communication disorders organized by the Ministry of Health in Nanning, China.
“We received an overwhelmingly positive response,” Liu said. “According to officials, these types of assessments will provide Chinese institutions with a ground-level opportunity to revolutionize speech-language pathology and audiology in China.”
The number of rehabilitation specialists in China, many of whom have minimal training, is less than 1 percent of the 126,000 well-trained and certified clinicians in the U.S. This small group of general rehabilitation specialists must serve a population 400 percent greater than that of the United States.
Liu said Bert Moore, dean of BBS, and UT Dallas’ Callier Center Executive Director Thomas Campbell have supported her Chinese outreach efforts. She looks forward to their guidance as she moves forward with plans for the educational and clinical programs.
“Dr. Liu and Ms. Lee are engaged in a very exciting enterprise to try to facilitate new training and treatment programs with institutions in China,” Moore said. “We are pleased to support these efforts, drawing upon the extensive expertise of the Callier Center to assist in the development of these new programs. The enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit that Dr. Liu and Ms. Lee bring to this enterprise is contagious, and I am confident of their success.”
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