How the Internet Impacts Speech Therapy

Advanced technology has provided increased opportunities for education, communication, business, and medical science. This is most evident in the impacts the internet has brought to online speech and language therapy in California. Contrary to popular belief, speech therapy services extent far beyond helping people enunciate words, or control a stutter. The field, which requires a Master’s level education for clinicians, provides several services to children and adults. Speech, language, voice control, swallowing issues, and problems or barriers to communication are all addressed via speech and language therapy.

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It can be as straightforward as helping a soft-spoken professional project the voice better during presentations. Complicated situations may include swallowing problems due to a degenerative disease; assessing cognitive impairments that interfere with communication, or helping eliminate literacy barriers, such as phonics difficulties or comprehension. Traditionally, sessions were conducted person to person in schools, clinical settings, or in private practices. Scheduling, travel time, access, and costs often made services prohibitive for many individuals. Limited access in school systems meant children would sometimes have group sessions, or only meet with a therapist once or twice each month. Professionals could not work sessions into their hectic schedules, and those in remote areas had no access to services at all.

Sessions via the internet makes distance speech therapy possible, and adds many benefits to services. Some students and adults, for example, feel more comfortable participating from their own homes. Parents can participate in sessions with their children to provide more support, and encourage practice. Another benefit is that individuals have access to more therapists, which translates to having the therapist best suited to a particular issue or problem. Strategies for recalling words to help a person with dementia, for example, can be conducted by a therapist who focuses on geriatric conditions. Drastically lower costs are also a benefit. Private sessions can be offered at lower rates because there is less overhead involved. Schools save money because they no longer have to maintain a full time therapist, or dedicate a classroom to a speech laboratory. Requirements for speech therapy via the internet include a web camera, an audio headset, and a high-speed internet connection.

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