Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders - Distance Therapy Program with Rwanda

The Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders (CSD) at Florida Atlantic University is pleased to announce a cooperative distance therapy program with Rwanda. This collaborative endeavor will afford graduate students the opportunity to deliver speech and language services to individuals who do not have access to them. Moreover, it will allow for continued treatment by student clinicians via webcam video conferencing.

This project began in June of 2009 when Dr. Dale Williams joined a team from the Koinonia Foundation http://www.kfaid.com and

traveled to Kigali. Over the course of the next 16 days, he attended numerous meetings about the development of this program with Rwandan businessman and various government officials—including the Minister of Education Theoneste Mutsindashyaka (below).

Dr. Williams also administered speech and language evaluations to Rwandan businessmen interested in improving their communication with Americans. Not surprisingly, there were aspects of both speech and language that were different from Standard American English. These differences will be addressed in group accent reduction therapy.

In test runs using videoconferencing technology, Dr. Williams learned that the bandwidth in most of Rwanda is inconsistent and often insufficient to maintain a connection. Securing locations with suitable bandwidth continues to be a challenge. Nevertheless, it is expected that, beginning in 2010, students in the CSD program will have the opportunity to conduct therapy across 6 time zones.

Additional highlights of the trip included:

  • the Rwandan countryside,
  • helping to install solar power in a school (under the watchful eyes of every child there),
  • and, finally, making some new friends.