A recent research project by the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences helped raise awareness of common speech/language and hearing disorders among Haitian Americans in Nassau County.
A team of Hofstra professors, administrators, and students, along with a director from a local Haitian community group, spent eight weeks researching, writing and translating health information into the Creole language. They created several brochures that were distributed during a community event at the Uniondale Public Library in late summer. Hofstra students also delivered a presentation, with the aid of a translator, about prevention, assessment, and management of speech-language-hearing disorders – such as hearing loss in newborns, which can be easily missed.
“After Florida, New York State has the highest population of Haitian Americans, with many living in Nassau County,” said Aniruddha Deshpande, PhD, assistant professor of audiology, who led the research. “Many in the Haitian community often rely on self-treatments rather than professional medical help to treat illness, so one of the overarching goals of the study was to provide this underrepresented community with more access to health information.”
The project was funded by a $1500 grant sponsored by the School of Health Professions and Human Services’ Global Health Planning Committee Summer 2017 ‘Glocal’ Health mini-grant program.
The research team also conducted pre- and post-presentation surveys with attendees to evaluate its impact, and plan to hold two more similar events in the coming year. Doctor of Audiology student Nicole Trupo’20 will collect and evaluate community responses at these upcoming events as part of her capstone, with Dr. Deshpande serving as her advisor.
“This project was a fantastic opportunity; it allowed me to not only share my knowledge about the field of audiology, but also to help raise awareness about how important your sense of hearing truly is,” said Trupo. “We were so welcomed by the Haitian organization and we learned a lot about their culture too, which is important for us as audiologists to consider when practicing in the field.”
Dr. Deshpande says students gain valuable professional experience from such experiences. “They now have skills in designing questionnaires and translating materials, giving presentations, interacting with the local community, and collaborating with other professionals – all of which will be important as they build their own careers,” he said.
In addition to Dr. Deshpande and Trupo, the team consisted of Wendy Silverman, clinical director of the Speech-Language Hearing Clinic at Hofstra’s Saltzman Community Services Center; Dr. Ianthe Murad, clinical coordinator of the Long Island AuD Consortium; Dr. Rose Valvezan, coordinator of audiological services at the Saltzman Community Services Center; Wendy Alexandre, a graduate student in the Master of Arts program in speech language pathology; Claudia Steel, an undergraduate in speech-language-hearing sciences; and Maria Sonia Saint Rose-Bienvil, a graduate student in the Master of Public Health program and executive director of Solidarite Haitiano-Americaine De Long Island, Inc. (SHALI), a local non-profit representing Haitians in the region.
After collecting and evaluating the data by spring 2019, the team plans to do a poster/podium presentation at the American Academy of Audiology and submit its findings for publication in a health or audiology journal.
The community outreach project helps advance the mission of both the School of Health Professions and Human Services and the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences to prepare students to be skilled, compassionate health care professionals who make a difference in the lives of others.