James Madison University

Speech-Language-Hearing Applied Laboratory Serves Community

By: Dina Manco
Posted: November 14, 2014

According to Director of Clinical Education Dr. Stacey Pavelko, the Speech-Language-Hearing Applied Laboratory (SLHAL) has been the “best kept secret” in the JMU community – until now. Speech-language evaluations and therapy, hearing evaluations, and hearing aid fittings are a few of the many services the laboratory provides to the public. There is no third-party pay; insurance is not a component at SLHAL. Many services available to the public are offered at a reduced cost for those who are unable to afford clinic fees. In addition, they also offer free hearing evaluations once a year for elderly who qualify for Medicare. If you’re a JMU student or faculty member, most services are offered either at a low cost or free of charge. Some JMU students even receive speech-language therapy for free. Pavelko states, “We provide a service people might not otherwise be able to get in the community at a very reasonable cost.” Usually, SLHAL offers a twenty percent discount to JMU faculty and students for certain items, such as custom earplugs (for swimmers, musicians, or even iPod use).

PHOTO: Dr. Jacobsen with patient

The laboratory has provided clinical training to undergraduate and graduate students since its establishment in 1964. At SLHAL, clinical instructors oversee the students’ work. Faculty members provide their expertise in order to help support the students in areas such as working with children from preschool to adolescence or with children who have autism. Pavelko comments, the laboratory “helps to prepare students for future clinical training and allows them opportunities to learn in the comfort of our campus.” Audiology student Michael Morikawa adds, “One of the main reasons I've chosen the program at JMU is being able to deal directly with people. The lab gives me the opportunity to apply what I am learning to a real life experience all while honing my clinical skills.”

SLHAL is the only approved provider in the area to conduct follow up comprehensive hearing evaluations for infants that do not pass their initial newborn hearing screenings. In addition, SLHAL visits preschools and day care centers to offer free speech, language, and hearing screenings for children aged three and up. Morikawa expresses, “The best part about working with the patients is getting positive feedback from them and really seeing firsthand the effects we can have on someone's life…We have the opportunity to take our time and do a comprehensive job of assessing our patients.”

PHOTO: Student discusses results with patient

Adding to the list of complimentary services, SLHAL holds a summer camp every year for children with speech and language issues. The camp normally draws approximately forty children for the five week program. The laboratory and its summer camp are funded by the university and Scottish Rite Masons.

The Speech-Language-Hearing Applied Laboratory is open Monday-Friday, 8a.m.-5p.m. Call the Clinic Secretary, Cam Wymer, at (540) 568-6491 to schedule an appointment.

Pavelko remarks, “It is really exciting to see the graduate students with their first opportunity to work with clients. [In turn,] a lot of our clients like knowing they are supporting the growth of the students – it’s a great dynamic.”