Our faculty, staff and students uphold Iowa’s long tradition of connecting with the local community, Iowa's citizens, and virtual partners through engagement, outreach and service learning programs

Our traditions of extending beyond our walls research and clinical discoveries began with CSD’s roots in the early 1900’s. Then part of the Psychology Department, pioneering faculty strove to understand and treat those with speech disorders such as stuttering. The long-running Summer Residential Program for children began in the 1940’s and continued for more than 50 years. As the profession developed, outreach to clients with a variety of speech and hearing disorders has evolved into a variety of summer camps, programs, and support groups.  

In the current environment, faculty, staff and students maintain their commitment to sharing new-found knowledge and learning to those we serve. The wide array of communication technology only enhances the speed and ease of information exchanges.

Aphasia Support Groups

The Aphasia Reading Club (ARC) meets weekly for people with mild to moderate aphasia who continue to experience difficulties with reading comprehension.  A variety of reading strategies and support are used to promote understanding of print at levels chosen according to individual ability.

The MAGIC (Modalities Aphasia Group – Improving Communication) group provides support and education to individuals with aphasia and their family members. Graduate students studying speech-language pathology, under the guidance of clinical faculty, provide a supportive environment for group members, as the student clinicians develop real-world skills working with those with neurologic injuries and illnesses.

Cochlear Implant Informational / Support Groups

CI support group
AuD student clinician Jeff Shymanski responds to questions from CI wearers and their spouses at a CI Support Group meeting in 2021.

Informational sessions are held each semester for individuals in the community who struggle with a significant hearing loss and are considering cochlear implants. During the sessions, audiologists and graduate student clinicians discuss how cochlear implants work, candidacy, current technology, and the potential benefits that a CI can provide.

Support groups for those who wear CIs and their frequent communication partners allow opportunities to share experiences and learn from one another. Clinical Assistant Professor Julie Jeon and audiology graduate students are available to answer questions and introduce listening exercises and communication strategies to practice together.

Sessions are held in person at the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center or via Zoom.

Community Preschool Hearing, Speech and Language Screenings

A team of faculty and students from the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Clinic goes to area preschools and daycare centers each year to provide no-cost hearing, speech and language screenings for children 3 – 5 years of age.  Results are shared with parents, and options for treatment or strategies for remediation for any detected problems are shared. Parents are notified of the opportunity for screening prior to the WJSHC visit, and they may choose whether or not to have their child(ren) participate.


Early Classroom Collaboration

The Language Disorders in Children: Birth to five course, currently taught by Assistant Professor Philip Combiths, includes a service learning component that was initially developed and implemented by Professor Emeritus Karla McGregor. Master’s students in speech-language pathology partner with the early classroom teachers at the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County. The speech-language pathologists in training coach teachers on the use of language facilitation strategies in the classroom. The MA-SLP students benefit from learning how to work via professional collaboration and gain experience in ‘real world’ situations.

Project HOPE

Project HOPE (Healthcare Occupations Preparation and Exploration) is a STEM-based curricular intervention that integrates academic and vocational opportunities designed to connect minority and low socioeconomic middle school students to the health science professions early in their education. Speech-language pathology and audiology are currently not racially and ethnically diverse professions. Thus, for the past several years, CSD clinical faculty and graduate students have encouraged teen visitors to explore these fields as career goals. Project HOPE students are invited to a building tour to view classrooms, clinic rooms, audiological suites, research labs, and the anechoic chamber. Graduate students then present a brief overview of the field and answer questions.

Project ImPACT

Project ImPACT (Improving Parents as Communication Teachers) is a parent education therapeutic program. The research-based program aims to teach parents of children with autism strategies to facilitate improved use of social engagement and language skills. Clinician mentors Jenny Brodell and Stacy Robinson and their graduate students lead the program in conjunction with psychologists from the Department of Child Psychiatry. 

SPEAK OUT!® and The LOUD Crowd®

SPEAK OUT!® and The LOUD Crowd® are a two-part speech therapy program to help individuals with Parkinson’s disease regain and maintain effective communication. Initially, clients work through a series of speech, voice, and cognitive exercises with Clinical Associate Professor Karen Bryant, Clinical Assistant Professor Louise Pinkerton and grad student clinicians on the voice team. To maintain their gains, clients transition to The LOUD Crowd® maintenance program.

Special Olympics Hearing Testing

Audiologists Elizabeth Stangl and Jacqueline Carder coordinate hearing testing for 200-plus participants in the Special Olympics Iowa Games each March in Iowa City. Hearing loss among Special Olympians is much greater than the general population, as many hearing problems in this group are undetected or unserved. The Special Olympics Healthy Hearing program is free to the participating athletes. Graduate students in speech-language pathology and audiology volunteer to conduct the hearing screenings, gaining valuable training experience.


Led by Clinical Audiology Supervisor Kellsie Busho, UI-SAFE is a faculty-student educational effort which promotes healthy hearing. The team’s main focus is to reach out to individuals across the age span, educating them about exposure to hazardous sound levels which occur in daily life, as well as teaching effective strategies to protect hearing. UI-SAFE gets their message out by participating in health fairs, presenting to school classrooms and band programs, providing information to a wide variety of groups of college students across campus, and posting on Facebook and Instagram.

Voice Academy

The Voice Academy was developed by Communications Specialist Julie Ostrem and a team of voice researchers and clinicians to protect the vocal health of U.S. schoolteachers. Research shows that teachers have the highest incidence of voice disorders as compared with other occupational groups. Funded by a health education grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, teachers (and other professionals with heavy voice use) can visit the virtual school's classrooms,  learning preventative vocal health strategies, resources for overworked voices, and tools for creating a healthy vocal environment.