by Judith Maginnis Kuster - Minnesota State University, Mankato (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Today, worldwide, there are approximately 60 million children, teenagers, and adults who stutter. Stuttering is a much misunderstood speech disorder. It is an important step for the stuttering community to recognize a day where consumers and professionals work and learn from each other to share and give support to those affected by stuttering.
Each year, October 22 is recognized as International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) by the International Fluency Association (IFA) and the International Stuttering Association (ISA). Many other professional and self-help organizations throughout the world have supported this growing effort, including ASHA, ASHA's Special Interest Division 4, Fluency and Fluency Disorders, the Stuttering Foundation of America and the National Stuttering Association. ISAD recognizes the growing alliance between speech-language professionals and consumers. These groups are working together to share, give support, and educate one another and the general public on the impact of stuttering on individuals' lives.
In conjunction with ISAD, online conferences have been held on the Internet for the past three years. These conferences have featured presenters from 23 different countries, with participants from 47 different countries around the world. Last year, from October 1-22, 2000, the entire conference site had 36,951 requests for information. Each paper was read by an average of 185 people (which would be a good attendance for a single paper at any conference!)
Feedback about the conferences has been extremely positive. People who do not ordinarily have an opportunity to talk to the experts in the area of stuttering could ask questions. People from around the world could share their ideas. Consumers had an opportunity to learn from and just as important, to have their ideas heard by the professional community.
This year's conference promises to provide another excellent experience for participants, with invited papers by consumers and professionals around the world. Among the countries represented will be the United States, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, Korea, Belgium, Australia, Iceland, Bosnia, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates.
Panel discussions, papers, and poster sessions for this year's conference will be placed online October 1. The papers are designed to appeal to a general audience, including speech-language pathology students, school-based SLPs, private practitioners, university professors, and consumers from around the world. Interested individuals will be able to read the papers and each paper will have a threaded discussion attached (like a bulletin board where questions and answers can be accessed at any time). In this way, individuals from around the world will easily be able to ask questions and to make comments on any of the papers. The authors have agreed to respond to appropriate questions on the threaded discussions.
The online conference will be open from October 1-22 at the top of the Stuttering Home Page and is freely accessible to anyone with a connection to the Internet. All the previous conferences are also permanently archived at this site.
For more information on International Stuttering Awareness Day, contact isad22Octo@aol.com.
Judith Kuster is in the department of communication disorders at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her by email at email@example.com.