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Children in Class at DePaul School for Hearing and Speech
Photo: Children at the DePaul School for Hearing and Speech (courtesy of DePaul School).

Updated: October 2, 2021

The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) and DePaul School for Hearing and Speech are teaming up to provide research and educational opportunities to improve academic programming at both institutions. A strategic and official partnership, marked by the signing of a memorandum of understanding, is significantly expanding collaboration between the two Pittsburgh schools.

For many years, DePaul School has served as a training site for speech-language pathology and audiology students from SHRS’ Department of Communication Science and Disorders (CSD). DePaul School for Hearing and Speech teaches children who are deaf, hard of hearing or with speech impairments to listen and speak. By utilizing Listening and Spoken Language Education (LSL), DePaul School currently serves approximately 60 students ranging from infancy through eighth grade. 

Pitt CSD’s commitment to community engagement aligns with DePaul School’s 100+ year mission to serve the regions’ families of children with hearing loss. DePaul School is looking to the Department to study the impacts and outcomes of clinical and academic practices surrounding the education of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Pitt CSD will contribute the resources and expertise to carry out this work while providing opportunities for students to experience hands-on clinical and research training.

“Collecting evidence (through data) is the very best way to tell a story about how effective a program is,” says Dr. Ruth Gabig Auld, executive director, DePaul School. “For example, we hope to extend the current knowledge about the impact of cochlear implants. It is our hope that this partnership will provide empirical evidence of how the human brain processes information, and opportunities to improve that processing.“ 

“I am deeply committed to engagement and strengthening our partnerships with the community,” states Dr. Bernard Rousseau, professor and chair, Department of Communication Science and Disorders. “Through our partnership with DePaul School, we are doubling down on my vision for excellence in our core missions of research, clinical education and service to the community. In today’s rapidly changing health care environment, the successful training of the next generation of leaders in audiology, speech-language pathology, and speech and hearing science will depend on innovative clinical, research and education programs. Together, we are embracing this opportunity to lead and ensure that our research and clinical training programs remain highly relevant and that we play a major role in expanding opportunities for students.”

The partnership between the institutions aims to fulfill various mutually beneficial goals including: 

  • The development of graduate student scholarships
  • The creation of doctoral student and post-doctoral research fellowships
  • Community partnership initiatives including: 
    • Summer camps for school-age students
    • Professional development and continuing education opportunities for clinicians
  • Opportunities for DePaul School to engage in University-led research
  • Clinical training opportunities 
  • Adjunct teaching opportunities
  • Sponsorship of events

“The Pittsburgh region is a stronger community when we work together for a common good,” explains Auld. “The collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh Department of Communication Science and Disorders and our school will continue to pave a clear pathway for better access to communication for individuals who have hearing and/or speech challenges.”

Rousseau adds, “One of my top priorities as chair is to build strong partnerships across the health care community in the City of Pittsburgh and surrounding regions. These partnerships will lead to deeper and more meaningful opportunities for collaboration and high-quality training experiences for students. Our re-envisioned Pitt CSD and DePaul School partnership will provide Pitt students with greater access to clinical and research training experiences and our institutions will serve as a catalyst for change in the community. In return, we will strengthen our commitment to providing DePaul School staff and students with unprecedented access to University resources including faculty with pediatric expertise and research programs that span the speech, language and hearing continuum.”

Pitt’s Department of Communication Science and Disorders is nationally and internationally recognized for its training of audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech and hearing scientists, and providing opportunities for trainees to become leaders in clinical practice, education, research and service. The Department’s Speech-Language Pathology program is ranked 3rd in the nation and its Audiology program is ranked 7th. No other programs are ranked higher in the state of Pennsylvania.

DePaul School for Hearing and Speech is the only Listening and Spoken Language school in the western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia tri-state areas. It has been serving the region since 1908.