BUFFALO, N.Y -- Funding clinical services for clients who cannot
communicate through speech is the ultimate goal of a $220,000 grant
awarded to the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences
in the University at Buffalo's College of Arts and Sciences.
The grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation, to be paid over
two years, will provide start-up expenses for a Center for
Augmented Communication in the department's Speech-Language and
Hearing Clinic. After the first two years, grants, workshops and
clinic fees will provide funding for the clinic.
The center will provide services to area residents who are
unable to speak because of physical or cognitive disabilities.
Nationwide, there are approximately 3.9 million people with complex
communication needs, some of whom use augmentative and alternative
communication (AAC) devices to communicate.
Jeffery Higginbotham, Ph.D., associate professor in the UB
Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, said the
center's work will have a significant impact on the lives of
"It means the difference between not getting an education and
getting an education, the difference between not being able to be
employed and getting a job," he noted.
"The ability to speak is more important than what we call our
right to freedom of speech, because without the ability to speak,
you can't exert control over your own life," added Higginbotham,
who founded UB's Communication and Assistive Device Research
Laboratory in 1988.
"What most interested us in making the grant for the center was
the level of research being conducted that could translate to
clinical applications," said Thomas E. Baker, president of the
Baker added, "We believe the best grants we make bring
advancements and breakthroughs directly to people who need them,
and we are hopeful that the center will do just that."
Uday P. Sukhatme, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said
he is grateful to the Oishei Foundation for its leadership role and
for "recognizing how critical this research is to the everyday
lives of our citizens."
He added: "The foundation's support demonstrates a belief not
only in the university and its high-quality research, but in the
vast opportunities for partnering with UB to improve the quality of
life in the Buffalo-Niagara region."
The Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic trains speech pathology
and audiology students and each year serves hundreds of Western New
Yorkers with a number of conditions and diseases, including
tinnitus, laryngectomy, Asperger's syndrome, autism, stuttering,
traumatic brain injuries, strokes, cerebral palsy, multiple
sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, Alzheimer's disease and
Higginbotham said the Oishei grant will allow the clinic to
expand its current clinical focus to offer more services in
The latter will include establishing a support group for persons
with Lou Gehrig's disease, MS and Parkinson's disease; workshops to
help professionals learn more about AAC technology; consulting work
for area agencies, and assisting homebound patients in acquiring
The John R. Oishei Foundation's mission is to enhance the
quality of life for Buffalo-area residents by supporting education,
health care, scientific research and the cultural, social, civic
and other charitable needs of the community. The foundation was
established in 1940 by John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products
Corp., one of the world's leading manufacturers of windshield wiper