Courtney ByrdDepartment of Communication Sciences & Disorders
Among the 153,000+ practicing clinicians in the US, less than 1% feel competent to provide services to the nearly 20 million children and adults who stutter. The STEPS content and learning management system provides an innovative solution that will end this struggle. Through access to STEPS, students, professors, and practicing clinicians worldwide will be provided interactive exposure to this exceptional range of clinical scenarios. At present, the majority of Phase 1 of the STEPS project (the wireframes, layouts, and webpage design, along with the technical framework) have been created. The remaining aspects of Phase 1 that require completion are the creation of the functional specifications, merging of the content, coding of the layouts, integration of the learning and content management system software, and usability testing. The second and final phase will be complete by the end of the semester and will allow for sophisticated user specific feedback after each response entry, as well as additional attempts to provide the correct response. Phase 2 will also allow for the tracking of responses for future classroom use and documentation of clinical competency.
Contrary to portrayals in the popular media, stuttering is not a psychological disorder, rather it is a neurophysiological disorder with a genetic predisposition. However, when persons who stutter are provided speech-language services by someone who has not been adequately trained, stuttering can and often does have significant negative academic, social, and emotional consequences. Despite these detrimental consequences, most students report minimal to no clinical or academic exposure to stuttering. Given the critical lack in training, it is not surprising that most practicing clinicians feel the least competent providing services for stuttering.
The STEPS program will provide undergraduate and graduate students as well as practicing clinicians with an innovative, interactive opportunity to navigate authentic video footage of best practices for preschool, school-age, older adolescents and adults who stutter who differ in age, gender, and severity. Users will easily access STEPS on their personal computer or mobile device to observe and analyze a wide range of clinical scenarios and make complex decisions in the absence of client risk. The STEPS program will include 1000+distinct authentic clinical scenarios that are fundamental to the major domains of stuttering competencies required for receipt of ASHA certification.
Access to STEPS will serve as a valid, ground-breaking content and learning management system that can facilitate attainment of clinical competencies. In sum, through access to STEPS, students and practicing clinicians worldwide will be provided with the academic and clinical exposure needed to feel competent working with persons who stutter as well as the skills needed to make meaningful contributions to our understanding and treatment of this complex disorder.