Faculty and students in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders have partnered with non-profit organization Hope Speaks to work with people with disabilities in Uganda.
The non-profit ministry, Hope Speaks is based in Kampala, Uganda. It work with Ugandans of all ages that have disabilities. Speech, language, feeding, and augmentative communication therapy are some of the areas they focus on.
They work with Ugandan social workers in their facilities which include clinics in special needs schools and orphanages. In addition to providing therapy, they minister to the families.
This past summer, eight communication science disorder majors were able to work with Hope Speaks in Uganda.
Meagan Songer, second year grad student from Tomball, spent eight weeks in Uganda where she was an intern and worked under the speech pathologist providing services. There she worked in the schools and outreach clinics.
“It’s a difficult experience because you’re seeing a lot of stuff you would never see otherwise in treating a lot of clients with very severe disabilities,” Songer said. “That was definitely eye-opening in a lot of ways.”
Therapy sessions include reassuring the parents it is not their fault that their children have a disability and educating them on how they could work with their children at home; with some of them having feeding and swallowing problems that can turn into nutrition issues.
Earlier in November, the founders of Hope Speaks came to speak at ACU. Their plan is to partner with ACU; sending a team of faculty to Uganda with undergrad students in 2021 and send two second year graduate students each year to do a graduate clinical.
The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders had a ‘prepare to share’ night where students adapted toys for the kids with disabilities in Uganda.
Dr. Lynette Austin, chair of the communication science department, and Lory Chrane, undergrad program director, said the department would like for their teams traveling to Uganda to be multidisciplinary and they have seen interest from social work and nutrition students.
“There’s really plenty of work for everybody because the need is great and Hope Speaks is trying to branch out to pull in other specialists,” Austin said.