There's Always Something New on the Internet!
by Judith Maginnis Kuster - Minnesota State University, Mankato
Eight years ago, when I first accessed the Internet before the days of the World Wide Web, I was continuously amazed as I explored "Gopher Holes," finding text information, programs, and pictures that enhanced my professional knowledge and improved my teaching. That sense of wonderment persists on a daily basis as I continue to explore and discover the increasing use of technology by others. This column will highlight several examples of various technologies that others have mastered, put on the Internet, and freely share with the world. Although they have done most of the work, you may have to stretch your technology comfort level a bit to access some of it. But it is well worth the effort!
VocalDevelopment.com (www.vocaldevelopment.com) was developed by David J. Ertmer of Purdue University "to share information about early speech development and to provide examples of the delightful speech sounds that children produce before they say words." The short sound clips provide opportunity to learn about vocalizations at different developmental levels. A tutorial provides an intervention approach to stimulate early speech development in toddlers with cochlear implants.
Dr. Francis Quinn and his resident physicians of the University of Texas have been pioneers in sharing information on the internet since Dr. Quinn's Online Textbook (www.utmb.edu/otoref/Grnds/GrndsIndex.html) began in 1989. The "textbook" was first accessible as a "gopher site" from 1989-1994 and migrated to the World Wide Web in 1995. Since that time, the archives have expanded and evolved to accommodate the advancing technology. Currently there are many "chapters" in the online text that are freely accessible, and very useful to speech-language pathologists and audiologists. The chapters are not only available in text, but many of the chapters include PowerPoint slide presentations that can be adapted for sharing information. A PowerPoint viewer can be freely downloaded (http://office.microsoft.com/downloads/2000/Ppview97.aspx).
Identification of Swallowing Patterns associated with Dysphagia by Mark Mizuko, Rachel Komarek, John Hatten, Joe Piette & Peggy Stone
(www.d.umn.edu/csd/video/swallowing.htm) uses QuickTime movies. The site contains several videofluoroscopy segments of normal swallowing as well as disordered swallowing The necessary QuickTime player is freely available (www.apple.com/quicktime/information/get.html).
Intellitools is a company that develops and produces computer products for individuals with learning and/or physical disabilities. The Intellitools Activity Exchange, which contains hundreds of activities, is freely available (www.intellitools.com/shareyouractivitiesn.html). You don't need to own IntelliTools software to use the activities, but you will need the free Intellitools players and converters (www.intellitools.com/playersmacorwin.html). You will need to expand or decompress the files you want. For a Macintosh, use Stuffit Expander (www.stuffit.com/expander/macindex.html). For a PC, use WinZip (www.winzip.com/downhome.htm).
Finally, for those who are ready to explore greater technical challenges themselves, Praat (www.fon.hum.uva.nl/praat/), is a program for speech analysis and synthesis written by Paul Boersma and David Weenink at the department of phonetics of the University of Amsterdam. Praat works with various operating systems including PowerMac, Windows, Solaris, and Linux. Praat can benefit researchers and students, but it also offers more sophisticated analysis than most practicing clinicians typically have available to them. Among the many features of this program are the ability to do speech analysis, speech synthesis, speech manipulation as well as produce graphics which can be used for articles and theses. (Keep in mind that the validity of acoustic analysis is affected by the electronic components of your computer that handle signal conversion and noise reduction among other things). The Web site offers several tutorials on the program's use as well as information about how to join a group of nearly 250 people who use the software (http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/praat-users/). The list has public archives.
Judith Kuster is in the Department of Speech, Hearing and Rehabilitation Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All of Kuster's Internet columns are on the ASHA Web site in html format with active links, although URLs change and there is no guarantee that links from previous articles are still functional.
Kuster, JM, There's Always Something New on the Internet, ASHA Leader, June 11, 2002, p. 16.