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Tools for Transformation Funded Proposals

Tele-Collaboration in Speech Hearing Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences

Dramatic changes in educational and healthcare reform have reduced resources for the delivery of services to individuals with communication disorders. As a result, research practices must shift from laboratory to field research to assure that the altered methods of service delivery remain effective. With the advent of telecommunication technology, it becomes possible to expand the contexts in which we conduct research to include remote sites, allowing for the investigation of complex behavioral phenomena in the natural environment. This technology also enables us to provide experiential learning for our students as they can observe and interact with clinicians in the field in real-time (i.e., "synchronous communication"). The Tele-Collaboration Project involves the development of a new model for conducting research, one that includes community partners in collaborative research through the utilization of synchronous telecommunication. While medical tele-consultation and Web-based conferencing formats have begun to receive widespread use, to date, the application of these technologies to research has been limited. The Tele-Collaboration Project in Speech and Hearing Sciences provides an opportunity to conduct field research, enhance community partnerships, and provide experiential learning for our students through the application of this technology to further our understanding of communication disorders and their management.

Contact: Lesley B. Olswang
Professor, Speech and Hearing Sciences
Allocation: $361,935
Date Funded: May 1999

November, 1999
December, 2000
December, 2001 (Final)

PROGRESS REPORT, November 1999

The tele-collaboration project has begun by hiring staff, developing a timeline, and establishing elements of the infrastructure that will be necessary for the two phases of the project: asynchronous and synchronous phases. Patricia Dowden PhD., was hired to coordinate the grant starting September 1. She and departmental faculty subsequently identified and hired five work-study students who are graduate students in Speech and Hearing Sciences. A detailed timeline has been developed for the first year of the project, achievements to date are outline below. Simultaneously, space has been allocated and the infrastructure has been upgraded to permit the establishment of the networks necessary for the stair of the project.

The asynchronous phase of the project, which is targeted for completion during the first year of funding, has begun with the development of content materials for the collaborative web sites. These web sites will serve for dissemination and data collection for departmental research. This phase of the project has three components: audiology, K-12, and adult neurogenics. In audiology, faculty have developed a research protocol that will be used for off-site data collection during clinical visits at the first site, the V.A. Hospital and Medical Center Consultants at the Center for Educational Resources (CER) have begun working with the lead researcher in audiology and grant coordinator to develop the website and protocols for this process to ensure that the data are collected properly and made available to UW faculty for analysis. For the K-12 collaboration, faculty have developed some significant materials for the website and begun to share it with other U W faculty via the departmental intranet. All web-site material is being developed with assistance from CER to ensure that faculty can collect significant and meaningful data from site visitors. The faculty in K-12 has submitted an application to conduct a mini-seminar at an up-coming conference and also given two public presentations to community professionals and families about the Tools project. Questionnaires were disseminated to the audiences at these presentations to identify the highest priorities from the community's perspective to ensure that the asynchronous website draws the visitors for the data collection and collaborations. In adult neurogenics, faculty has begun to develop materials for the website as well as prepare the audio-visual equipment and materials that will be required for the asynchronous and synchronous phases of the project.

The synchronous phase of the project is not slated to begin until Fall, 2000. However, preparations have begun for this ambitious and complex transformation to teaching and research in the department and clinical collaboration with the broader clinical community. First, this phase of the project builds on the asynchronous phase; therefore, all progress made in developing the website for the first phase will apply to this second, more complex phase. Second, CER staff has begun identifying the infrastructure modifications and specific equipment purchases that will be required for the synchronous phase. Third, the coordinator has met with other faculty and staff at UW and attended a workshop on telemedicine in order to understand the methods and approaches currently in use by others on campus.

The tasks completed in the last two months correspond to the objectives established in the projected timeline. Initial piloting of the web site for the asynchronous phase of the project is planned for the beginning of 2000. This objective seems entirely feasible given the progress that has been made thus far. The community response to developing collaborative field research with the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences has been extremely positive. Numerous individuals from across the state have volunteered to participate in initial piloting of the asynchronous phase of the project. This reception has been extremely gratifying and encouraging.

PROGRESS REPORT, November 2000, Year One

The Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences (SPHSC) has just completed a very productive first year of its Tools for Transformation (TfT) Project. The "Tele-Collaboration Project" is designed to enhance teaching and research through collaborative interactions with our greater clinical and research communities. The focus of Year 1 has been on establishing "asynchronous" interactions via the Internet/Web, while setting the stage for the "synchronous" (e.g. real-time) collaborations for Year 2. During this first full year, there have been numerous accomplishments in both the asynchronous and synchronous projects, as discussed in detail below.

Infrastructure Modifications: The TfT project has upgraded the communications wiring in many rooms within the Speech & Hearing Clinic to meet current C & C standards for high-speed, broad bandwidth connectivity as required for our goals. These improvements (upgrading conduits, cabling and communications switches) were made to clinic rooms, classrooms and laboratories that are crucial to the specific Tele-Collaboration projects. Unfortunately, the process of upgrading these spaces clarified the structural obstacles in Eagleson Hall that make upgrading the entire Speech & Hearing Sciences Department prohibitively expensive.

Digital Archive: TfT faculty and staff have entered into a collaborative relationship with UW’s Center for Information Systems Optimization (CISO), headed by Dr. Greg Zick. We will be piloting an innovative application of their photo archiving software, "Content", for a video archive for research and education. The SPHSC faculty will be utilizing this archive initially for asynchronous purposes, which include the following: 1) experiential learning by students of Speech & Hearing Sciences, 2) web-based educational outreach for pre-service and in-service education beyond the university, 3) storage of community-based data collection for later analysis or research training purposes. The video archive will also be utilized for some synchronous activities, including: 1) during streaming media presentations for the public or students outside of the University, and 2) during real-time collaboration with research colleagues, regionally and nation-wide.

Video Facilities:

The following two video accomplishments are particularly important for the asynchronous collaboration portion of the project:

Web-based Educational and Research Modules: The "Tele-collaboration Project" is developing four websites at the University. The primary website ( ) gives an overview of the project’s presence on the web. From this site, visitors can also access two of the 4 sites described below.

Patient Consent & Confidentiality: Dr. Dowden and the TfT team have been working closely with Clark C. Shores, Assistant Attorney General on UW campus to ensure that patient consent forms are up-to-date and appropriate, even for future, innovative uses of digital media. Mr. Shores has also assisted us with copyright and ethics rules within the University as they apply to our projects. We plan to have Mr. Shores speak to all faculty and staff about these complex legal issues, which have changed for the entire department with the use of new educational technologies.

In just the first year, the Tools for Transformation project has reshaped research and educational methodologies within the Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences. The second year of this project is expected to have a similar impact and we anticipate that this project will resonate throughout the department’s research and training projects for many years.

FINAL PROGRESS REPORT, December 2001: The Tele-Collaboration ("Tcollab") Project:

The Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington has just completed a two-year project to enhance teaching and research through collaborative interactions with clinical and research communities within and beyond the University. The Project faculty and staff, under the direction of Lesley Olswang, Ph.D., PI, and Pat Dowden, Ph.D., Project Coordinator, furthered the infrastructure and capabilities in the department in several respects:

  1. Infrastructure Upgrade: The project has upgraded the communications wiring in many classrooms, clinic rooms and labs within the Speech & Hearing Department for high-speed, broad bandwidth connectivity. This was essential for a number of the project goals.

  2. Digital Resource Library: The Tcollab project has developed an innovative digital archive system, based on CONTENTdm software. This archive is a searchable database of video/audio clips for educational and clinical purposes. This archive brings together in a searchable library an array of exemplars of communication disorders across the lifespan. The ability to easily search and locate examples will enhance teaching tremendously.

  3. Video Facilities: The project has upgraded the digital video recording capabilities in key clinic rooms as well as in a new recording studio acquired from Social Work. These facilities will support high quality videotaping of clinical experiences to be used in research and teaching (i.e., contributions to the Digital Resource Library). Further, the additional video capabilities afforded through the recording studio will permit our department to move further into (1) synchronous data collection from colleagues serving low-incidence populations, and (2) real-time field data collection from natural communication contexts.

  4. Video Editing Facilities: The project has obtained 3 workstations for collecting, editing and uploading video to the "Content" archive discussed above. Key personnel have been trained to support faculty, staff and students in their editing work.

  5. Client Confidentiality: Because of the expansion of our video capabilities and dissemination of video clips via the Digital Resource Library and related Web-based projects, we have needed to address issues of client confidentiality. As a result, the Tools project has developed consent forms that meet the highest standards of client confidentiality. The new consent form used in the Speech and Hearing Clinic is designed to fully inform the family and the client of all potential uses of any audio-video files. This form has been approved by the UW Attorney General's Office as well as by the UW team involved in compliance with the more stringent standards of the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), due to be implemented in 2005. This form has served as a template for many faculty members who are developing consent forms for research that involves human subjects and videotaping activities.

  6. Demonstration Projects: These tools have permitted the development of numerous demonstration projects in specific areas of specialization: Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): This educational Web site, UW Augcomm, has been developed through the collaborative efforts of UW faculty and regional clinical experts in AAC. The information relates to three topic areas of particular interest to the community: AAC Vocabulary & Symbols, Understanding AAC Features and Funding for AAC Equipment.

  7. Subsequent Grants: The Tools for Transformation funds have permitted the Speech & Hearing Sciences Department to compete successfully for funding for several projects. The Social Communication Handheld Data Collection project will be continued via a large research grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control to the Departments of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Epidemiology, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. This research will examine the social communication problems of school-age children diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders. The grant will be implemented across three years. The first two years will focus on validating the handheld methodology for describing social communication problems in schools. The third year of the project will explore the uses of the methodology for providing intervention in the school setting.

    The Digital Resource Library and the UW Augcomm Website have resulted in a grant from the NEC Foundation of America for Dr. Dowden and Dr. Rogers. This project will be the first application of the video archiving system into a public Web site, developing a site that uses video clips and text stories to profile individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication. The Website, AAC enABLES, is scheduled for debut in spring, 2002.

  8. Future Projects: In addition to the projects that will be carried forward by the grants described in the previous section, plans are underway to continue or expand teaching and research efforts made possible by the Tools for Transformation Award. Funding for this project was made available through the University's Tools for Transformation Funding Initiative.

Tools for Transformation Funded Proposals