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College of Public Health

Breakthrough in Treating Speech Disorders

Breakthrough approach in treating speech disorders now available on software…

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. – A revolutionary new software program that changes the way speech disorders are treated in children was unveiled last week during the annual American Speech-Language-Hearing Association convention.

This groundbreaking software program is based on newer models of speech intervention that have been demonstrated to reduce dramatically the amount of time children are required to be in therapy. It was developed by Dr. Lynn Williams, a speech-language pathologist and professor at East Tennessee State University, and Thinking Publications, a publisher of speech and language materials, headquartered in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

The program, called SCIP: Sound Contrasts in Phonology™, is designed for speech-language pathologists as well as for faculty members who train practitioners in this field. It provides immediate access to several current phonological treatment approaches, including multiple oppositions (which was also developed by Williams), minimal pairs, maximal oppositions, and empty set.

The software package includes several video tutorials and demonstrations, a database of more than 2,300 words and over 6,000 nonsense words, and a tracking program that displays each patient’s progress.

“It’s about saving time, both for the patient and the clinician,” said Williams, a professor of communicative disorders in the ETSU College of Public and Allied Health. “The intervention materials are accessible within minutes, data are recorded automatically, and additional information and assistance are readily available, all at the click of the mouse.

“Most importantly, intervention research has demonstrated that these methods help children improve their speech intelligibility more quickly than traditional methods.”

Williams and Thinking Publications received major funding from the National Institutes of Health to develop this software and evaluate its operational reliability, learnability, and usability. Clinicians at six national test sites evaluated the program and determined the software was highly usable and reliable.

Using SCIP, clinicians were able to learn the new approaches and navigate through the software in less than an hour.

SCIP has undergone extensive review and testing and meets the highest standards of evidence-based practices,” Williams said. “That impressive distinction guarantees clinicians, faculty members, and parents that this software is among the most innovative and cutting-edge treatment modalities available.”

Experts recommend that speech disorders be resolved by the age of five or six, at which time most children are beginning school. Speech problems can cause significant delays in literacy development and learning that place some children behind their peers.

“Thinking Publications is honored to develop Dr. Williams' idea and bring it to the marketplace. SCIP adds to our line of quality products that help speech-language pathologists change lives; additionally SCIP will change our profession. It's that revolutionary,” said Linda Schreiber, CEO of Thinking Publications.

In addition to Williams, the ETSU research team included Carmen McCrea, a speech-language pathologist with the department of communicative disorders; John Kalbfleisch, a statistician at the James H. Quillen College of Medicine; and research assistants Kelley Lewis, Marni Adams, and Karen Wiljhelm. Daniel Santiago from ETSU’s department of communication produced the video tutorial for SCIP.

Joyce Olson, co-investigator; Cherie Godar, lead editor; programmers Don Toro and Ken Ray; Terry Shewczyk and Dawn Beard, illustrators; and Sara Thurs, technical editor, represented Thinking Publications on this project.

For information about purchasing SCIP, visit or call 1-800-225-4769.

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