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Community Impact Grants 2021-2022

Announcing Three GSHFoundation Community Impact Grant Recipients

We are delighted to announce the winners of the Community Impact Grants for academic year 2021-2022. These grants were awarded to experts in the field of speech-language pathology and audiology who, through innovation and application, promote community engagement of students and professional staff and facilitate high social impact to individuals with speech, language, cognitive, swallowing, or hearing disorders.

Check back in Fall 2022 for the next Community Impact Grant opportunity!


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Matthew Carter & Crystal Randolph

The fire of literacy is created by the sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading.
- Mem Fox
Matthew Carter & Crystal Randolph
Valdosta-Lowndes Home Literacy Enrichment Program

Graduate students of speech-language pathology at Valdosta State University serve as the primary providers of no-cost literacy intervention to approximately 50 kindergarten through third-grade students per year. In addition, the children that are served by this program are typically candidates for free or reduced lunch. Many of the individuals that are served through the Valdosta-Lowndes Literacy Enrichment Program have reduced access to books and this generous award from the Georgia Speech-Language-Hearing Association Foundation will make reading materials more accessible. Providing these books as a resource for a supplemental home-based reading program will hopefully increase generalization of reading skills and academic performance. Additionally, this award will further our capabilities as a training university to teach future speech-language pathologists how to select age/grade and culturally appropriate reading resources and to implement them into clinical services.

Three Impacts:

  1. Increase generalization of the literacy-based skills that are targeted in the Valdosta-Lowndes Literacy Enrichment Program.

  2. Provide culturally appropriate books to those that have reduced access to these materials. 

  3. Improve future speech-language pathologists’ abilities to incorporate literacy-based principles into the treatment of language disorders. 

Program Update

Drs. Matt Carter and Crystal Randolph combined their grant award with other funds to purchase decodable books, phonics workbooks, multisensory manipulatives, and grade-appropriate, multicultural children’s books to further their Valdosta-Lowndes Home Literacy Enhancement Program. Specifically, these materials were utilized by clinicians and clients in literacy programs at the Valdosta State Clinic and the Boys and Girls Club in Valdosta. Over 60 clinicians accessed these materials to enhance the incorporation of the written word into their speech-language treatment, impacting them in their future careers. The books have been vital in providing literacy-based services to the 25 students served at the local Boys’ and Girls’ Club this past spring and will continue to be vital as they provide these services in the upcoming semesters as well. 


Nina Santus

As speech pathologists, we are called to do more than simply treat our clients, we must advocate for change for the populations we serve.
Nina Santus
Gender Affirming Voice Services

Members of the transgender community experience challenges meeting basic needs and often have difficulty finding and affording voice services. In Athens-Clarke County, members of the community are often unaware of the availability of services offered through the UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic. When services are sought, retention and completion of treatment rates are poor secondary to financial burden imposed by the lack of health insurance coverage. The Gender Affirming Voice Services: Improving Access initiative funded by the GSHFoundation Community Impact Grant aims to increase visibility and awareness of specialized services provided by the UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic to transgender individuals at the University of Georgia and in the Athens-Clarke County community as well as to provide screenings, evaluations and voice training sessions at no cost to vulnerable members of the community. 

Three Impacts:

  1. Create greater awareness of the availability of Gender Affirming Voice Services in Athens-Clarke County 

  2. Help members of the community afford needed services including screening, evaluation and training sessions. 

  3. Indirectly decrease the risk of social isolation, becoming a victim of violence, experiencing depression and attempting suicide within the trans-gender community in Athens-Clarke County. 

Program Update

Nina Santus, Ph.D. of University of Georgia, through her grant, was able to provide information and educational materials regarding gender affirming voice services provided by the UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic to 50 persons at two community workshops. In addition, three voice evaluations and 15 voice training sessions were provided by 12 graduate students to transgender and nonbinary individuals in the Athens-Clarke County community, resulting in not only valuable treatment for the clients but training experiences for the students with this population.

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Akilah Heggs, Angela Miles, & Debra Schober-Peterson

Akilah Heggs, Angela Miles, & Debra Schober-Peterson
Assessing Communication Competence: Supporting adults with intellectual disabilities for vocational success

Employment for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) has improved health and well-being, interpersonal relations, and income, quality of life outcomes. Communication is a necessary skill in the workplace for vocational success. Individuals with ID can benefit from communication intervention to gain critical behavioral skills that may translate into better employment outcomes. The Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at Georgia State University (GSU) has collaborated with the IDEAL Inclusive Postsecondary Education (IPSE) Program to provide intervention to support the communication needs of young adults with mild ID.  The partnership revealed an opportunity to develop a standard, comprehensive assessment protocol with the aim of creating a communicative profile to inform intervention outcomes specifically related to communication needs that support sustainable employment. Through this project, the CSD team also hopes to provide graduate students with a skill set that contributes to increasing access to service for adults with mild intellectual disabilities. 

Competitive, integrated employment is a reachable outcome for people with intellectual disability (ID).  Supporting young adults with ID with strategies to enhance their communicative competence informed by structured, comprehensive assessment measures can have a direct impact on quality of life. Individuals with ID can benefit from communication intervention to gain critical behavioral skills that may translate into better, sustainable vocational success.
Program Update

As a result of their grant, Drs. Akilah Heggs and Debra Schober-Peterson and Ms. Angela Miles at Georgia State University were able to identify a standard, comprehensive protocol to identify the communication needs of young adults with mild intellectual disabilities relevant to sustainable employment. Six students enrolled in IDEAL, an inclusive education program that prepares students with intellectual disabilities for meaningful employment and ways to express themselves, were evaluated during the spring semester of 2022, permitting the investigators to identify evaluation tools that were successful in assessing the language and social communication skills and needs of these individuals.

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