Sunday, May 4, 2014

Your Thumbs Up Can Make all the Difference

This post is a little different than my usual, but it concerns a topic that is near and dear to my heart - namely, speech therapy programs in low and middle-income countries around the world.  I have a wonderful project to tell you about that you can help make a reality just by voting for it.

As many of you know my friend Kim and I went to Bangladesh in the summer of 2011 to teach Bangladeshi speech therapy students (yep, that's us in the photo above in all our sweaty tired glory on our last day in Bangladesh).  It was an amazing experience and opened our eyes to some of the difficulties of training speech therapists in poorer countries.  

Kim is one of those people who not only has great ideas, but gets things done and she has come up with a fantastic way to help improve the quality of speech therapy programs in low and middle-income countries around the world.  To help fund the project, she has applied for a grant through Grand Challenges Canada.  The grant would be used to develop computer-based learning modules to teach speech and language courses in developing countries.

At the present time these programs rely on foreign volunteers, such as Kim and myself, to do the teaching.  You can imagine that there are problems with this approach because it is difficult to ensure a steady stream of reliable, knowledgeable volunteers just when they are needed for the program, not to mention that the quality of teaching varies significantly.  

Using computer-based teaching modules would mean better and more consistent course content.  There would be other benefits as well, such as being able to include video demonstrations, explanations of technical vocabulary, and even the ability for the students to re-watch the lessons as needed.  These advantages would in turn mean better trained speech therapists.  

The computer-based learning modules could then be used around the world in any developing speech therapy program.  Interest has already been expressed by programs in Thailand, Ethiopia, and of course, Bangladesh.

Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) where we taught in Bangladesh

The grant application is accompanied by a video which you can watch on the website here.  For the next two months people are able to endorse particular projects by giving them a virtual thumbs up.  At the end of June, the committee looks at the applications and makes a decision as to who will get the funding.  Obviously the grant is not based solely on the voting, but we want to impress the panel by having a huge number of thumbs up, which is where you can help.

We would love to have you give this project a thumbs up after watching the video.  You do not need to log-in or sign up for anything, but just complete a captcha number to prove you aren't a robot.   Also you can vote every day which would really help the cause.  I try to remember to vote from both home and work to increase the numbers.  Also don't forget to pass this info along to any family or friends that could be willing to support the cause too. 

Please let me know in the comments if you have voted. This project means a lot to us and we appreciate you taking the time to give it a thumbs up.  

Me teaching the third year Speech Therapy class in Bangladesh

Kim teaching the third year class to do examinations of the oral structure and movements
(she's a blur due to the low lighting and the fact that she never stops moving) 

And just in case you are interested to learn more about my experiences when I was in Bangladesh, I have included some links.  You can read more about the teaching I did here and about my time in Bangladesh herehereherehere, and here.

PS,  The first three photos in the video were taken by me in Bangladesh

PPS,   Just so you can find the link more easily for voting - click here.


  1. Great project! I will certainly give it a thumbs up. I think that the more we understand about how we can use technology to enable others the more companies will get involved in helping that process to be an expected course of action.

  2. I voted. Can we vote everyday? I'll make sure that Shanley Belle and others in the family vote, too.

  3. Such a great cause, and I will be sure to vote often!

    xo Kat

  4. Done, and I will keep going back.

  5. Voted! Good luck- it's such a great cause!

  6. Thumbs up from me - it's the least I can do to vote for this very worthy cause.