Getting Started: "Finding Treasures on the Internet"

by Judith Maginnis Kuster, Mankato State University and Thomas A. Kuster, Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato, Minnesota (

QUIZ Directions: Supply a single three-word answer to each of the questions below:

1. You received your master's degree in a speech pathology program twenty years ago. You wonder about an approach for working with persons who stutter described in a recent journal article and would like information from clinicians or clients who have used the approach. Where can you find someone to ask?

2. The spouse of a traumatic brain injury survivor is looking for information and support. Where can she find it?

3. An undergraduate student wants to write a paper on fetal alcohol syndrome. His instructor insists on the most current information and tells the student he needs at least twenty resources from the past year. Where can he find the references?

4. A doctoral student recently completed her thesis and wants to find a conference where her information can be presented to an audience of linguists. Where can she find out about potential conferences?

5. Your voice client has been told by her physician that she must quit smoking. She lives in a rural area and needs to find support to help her quit. Where can she find it?

6. A little girl diagnosed with Rett Syndrome has moved into your school district. You know very little about Rett Syndrome and would like more information as well as suggestions from other speech-language pathologists about what the communication needs of this child are. Where can you find more information and support?

7. The university is preparing to do a major realignment of colleges and departments and the department chair wonders where Communication Disorders and Sciences is housed at other universities as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the various alignments. Where can this information be found?

8. A teacher in your district is doing a unit on sensitivity to disability for his fourth grade class and has asked you for various resources that would enhance his presentation about persons who are deaf. Where can you find materials for him?

9. A professor is preparing a lecture on language and culture and wants examples of how some idioms which we use may be very insensitive to gender, religion, national origin, etc. Where can he find some exaples to enhance his lecture?

10. You are a speech-language pathologist on a military base in Japan or in a rural community in Canada. Although you keep up with journals, you wish there were other professionals to consult and more materials available to help you with your caseload. Where can you find this support and information?

The three word answer to all of the above questions is - on the internet. More specific answers to each question can be found throughout this article and/or will be provided at the end.

The Internet connects businesses, schools, corporations, government agencies, libraries and individuals by linking their computers in a vast network that spans the globe. There are millions of computers connected to the Internet in a variety of ways and the number grows daily. The Internet provides access to many valuable resources for professionals and students in communication disorders and sciences as well as for persons with communication disabilities and those who are part of their lives. The following will be a short description of eight basic features on the Internet: email, mailing lists (listservs and e-journals), usenet (newsgroups), gopher, FTP (file transfer protocol), telnet, wais, and www (world-wide web). The discussion of each feature will include what it does and typical resources for Communication Disorders and Sciences . If all you have is access to email, the basic service provided by all the services, there are ways to access the internet through email, making everything described in this article available to you. Dr. Bob Rankin's article, "Accessing The Internet By E-Mail," (August 1994) is available free by sending email to Leave the subject line blank and enter the following line as the message get internet by-email nettrain f=mail.

Internet Feature: e-mail (electronic mail)

What it does: E-mail provides rapid (from a few seconds to a few hours) transfer of messages between your computer and any other computer with an e-mail address. The message waits in their computer's mail box until read. E-mail is much faster than the U.S. Postal Service, and avoids annoying "telephone tag" and long distance charges. E-mail addresses take this form:

Typical uses of E-mail:

Internet Feature: mailing lists and e-journals

What they do: Mailing lists provide forums for discussing or disseminating information about specific topics. The host computer stores a list of e-mail addresses of subscribers who are interested in the electronic journal or listserv topic. A copy of the e-journal is automatically sent by e-mail to the addresses of all subscribers. Subscribing is generally free. In the case of listservs, any message sent to the listserv address is automatically relayed to all subscribers. Listserv subscribers often just read all the messages without sending any (that's called "lurking") but anyone can join the discussion by sending comments or questions if they wish. It's always a good idea to lurk for a while to get a feel for the list before sending any messages. Many listservs send you 3 or 4 messages a week, but very active ones can send dozens each day. Be careful not to subscribe to too many at once. For e-journals, response is not necessary, although journal submissions are welcome. There is a variety of journals on the Internet, some juried and peer-reviewed.

Typical Mailing lists for Communication Disorders and Sciences:

Typical E-Journals for Communication Disorders and Sciences:

Internet Feature: usenet (newsgroups)

What they do: Newsgroups provide another forum for discussion of specific topics.The host computers accept messages sent in, store them for a few days, and then throw them away, thereby providing a continuously revolving array of messages on the specified topic. Anyone can connect at any time, browse the available messages, add a comment or question, and then leave. Contrast newsgroups and listservs: both provide discussion on topics. You subscribe to a listserv, and it sends all submitted messages to your mailbox. You do not subscribe to a newsgroup, but simply access it any time, browsing the messages current on the host computer at that moment.

There are thousands of newsgroups; the host computer you use may not carry them all. News group addresses are hierarchical a few main groups are divided into subgroups, which are again divided, and so on until a specific topic is identified The main hierarchies, which include more than 1700 groups are: alt (many topics), comp (computer topics), K12 (school topics), misc (miscellaneous topics), rec (recreation, hobbies, art), sci (science topics), soc (social issues) and talk (various issues).

Examples of newsgroups related to Communication Disorders and Sciences:

Internet Feature: gopher

What it does Gopher provides access to information stored on computers worldwide. It presents a series of menus, from which you make choices that lead to other menus, etc., until finally you reach the information you seek sometimes bibliographic data and sometimes text you can read onscreen, or download to your computer.

Typical Gopher sources and materials for Communication Disorders and Sciences

Internet Feature: FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

What it does: FTP enables you to retrieve files (texts, programs, pictures) from computers around the world. Many of these resources are available only to those who have the appropriate accounts and passwords, but a large number of computer owners have made many of their files available freely to the public through "anonymous FTP." FTP is complicated by the wide variety of file types that are used. If you are downloading a text file (just words), make sure your system is set to ASCII. If you are downloading a binary file (programs or pictures), see that your system is set to Binary. After you have received your file, in order to make it work on your system you may need to process it further if it has been encoded, archived, or compressed for more efficient transmission. There are programs available online free to do all these things.

Typical sources and materials by FTP for Communication Disorders and Sciences

Internet Feature: Telnet

What it does Telnet is the process that enables you to connect with another computer and operate it from your keyboard and screen as if it were your own. Many computers are closed to anyone who does not have the proper account and password for access, but many others allow public access as "guest." In this way, if your computer doesn't have a World Wide Web browser program, for example, you can telnet to a computer that does and use it to explore the WWW. Use Telnet also for checking your e-mail when away from home. Just find a computer connected to the Internet, telnet to your home computer, and run it as if you were there.

Typical sources and materials by Telnet for Communication Disorders and Sciences

What it does WAIS connects with giant databases and searches all the text in them in response to your questions which can be keywords or plain English sentences. WAIS returns a list of available sources, ranked in order of relevance to your query, with tools for refining your search still further if too many sources are found.

Typical sources and materials on WAIS for Communication Disorders and Sciences:

Internet Feature: WWW (World Wide Web)

What it does The Web, only a year or two old, provides access to text and graphics resources throughout the world by means of Hypertext links that is, you are led to find the items you want (not by searching successive menus, as in Gopher, but) by selecting (clicking) words in one document, which then open other relevant documents to which they are linked. Those documents in turn may contain links to still others. Remember that these documents are not all in one location; the Web is literally leading you to resources all around the world. Addresses on the Web are designated by URLs, or Universal Resource Locators.

Typical sources on the World Wide Web for Communication Disorders and Sciences:

Answer key to Quiz

l. Three listservs provide opportunites to learn more about a particular approach to therapy for persons who stutter, as well as one newsgroup -, stutt-l@vm., and

2. The listserv tbi-sprt@sjuvm.bitnet was created for exchange of information by survivors, supporters, and professionals concerned with traumatic brain injury and other neurological impairments. Gopher path/National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) contains an excellent resource guide for TBI survivors and their families.

3. Telnet to the Dartmouth library and search the Alcoholism Research Database. The key words "fetal alcohol syndrome" produced over 300 "hits."

4. Many of the linguistics listservs will post information on upcoming conferences, or are a place to ask about them. The e-journal foNETiks also announces conferences.

5. There are many resources available for persons who wish to quit smoking, including the listserv and a smoking cessation program available on the world-wide web NicNet"s How to Quit Smoking and Smokeless Tobacco

6. To find out more information about Rett Syndrome, check the wais database called OMIM (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man) available at gopher:// Gopher:// provides information to locate the National Rett Foundation. The listservs autism@sjuvm.bitnet and which is designed as a place to post diagnostic questions, might provide some leads for you.

7. One of the authors posted this question to the listserv and received information from department chairs on 15 different programs thoughout the United States in less than a day.

8. The FTP site has an Apple computer hypercard stack to teach finger spelling that allows the student to type in a name or phrase. The words are then fingerspelled on the computer monitor.

9. The listserv is the American Dialect Society's forum for discussion of dialect, etymology of words, idioms, etc.

10. The Internet Guide for Communication Disorders and Sciences by.Judith Kuster will provide you with information about hundreds of different listservs, newsgroups, e-journals, gopher, ftp, telnet, wais, and www sites that can bring materials and advice from other professionals about many topics that are relevant to a professional who feels isolated. Every citation throughout this article as well as in the answers to the quiz are further explained in the Internet Guide for Communication Disorders and Science.

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Adapted and updated from:
Kuster, JM and Kuster, TA, Finding Treasures on the Internet, ASHA, February 1995, p. 42-47