11 June 2011

Department of Human Communication Sciences – Reunion Party

On Saturday 11th June a 30 year anniversary reunion party was held in the Department of Human Communication Sciences for the first set of graduates who obtained their BMed Sci (Speech) in 1981 from this University, thus qualifying as speech and language therapists. Those attending the party included seven (pictured in photograph) of the original twelve students along with academic staff who taught them at the time, and speech and language therapists who worked in the NHS and took these students on placement while they were doing their degree. In addition many of the current staff in the Department attended the reunion party (pictured).

Graduates, former staff, current staff and students

In the late 1970s a Speech and Language Therapy qualifying degree was set up at the University of Sheffield, thanks to the interest and commitment of Dr Colin Stork and Dr Trevor Wright. The course started off in the Department of Linguistics in the Arts Tower, where Dr Stork was Head of the Department and in 1981 the first set of 12 students graduated with a B.Med Sci (Speech) Honours degree and a license to practice as a Speech and Language Therapist. Dr Wright was a paediatrician at Sheffield Children’s Hospital at this time and was concerned that children with communication impairments were given the help they needed. He therefore worked with Dr Colin Stork to help the University set up its own degree to educate students to become speech and language therapists, who could work with both children and adults who had communication impairments. Sadly, Dr Stork died in 1981. At the reunion party, we were pleased to welcome Dr Wright and his wife Rosalind.

Of the seven original graduates returning to the reunion they have all maintained a career in speech and language therapy and special education. As one of them commented, ‘we were very lucky and privileged students to have such a wonderful start to an enjoyable and rewarding career’.

Since the start of this degree, it has grown in numbers (35 at its largest per year) and other degree programmes have been added to our portfolio. In 1991 a two year fast track post graduate qualifying degree in Speech and Language Therapy (M.Med Sci) was introduced. Both of these speech and language therapy degrees continue to attract high calibre students in 2011, providing speech and language therapists all over the UK and abroad who are contributing to high quality speech and language therapy services, research and innovation.

The former students celebrating 30 years since their graduation

In the early 1990s the BSc (Human Communication Sciences) was also introduced providing a theoretical route to understanding typical and atypical communication.

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw the creation of taught post graduate courses designed for speech and language therapists, teachers and future researchers. Now delivered to some 90 students per year from around the world, both on line (by distance learning) and at the University, they include Masters, Diploma and Certificate programmes in Language and Communication Impairment in Children (LACIC); Cleft Palate Studies; Speech Difficulties, and Human Communication Sciences. There are also 27 post graduate research students and seven research assistants and research fellows who work alongside academic staff in our three research clusters: Clinical Linguistics; Cognitive Neuroscience of Speech and Language, and Speech, Language and Literacy - Development, Difficulties and Intervention.

A list of current academic staff within the department can be found using the link below. Currently, at May 2011, the Department has 20 members of academic staff involved in teaching; 4 members of academic staff involved in teaching are full professors.

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