NYU Steinhardt CSD Department Makes Strides with Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

When it comes to Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CLD), NYU Steinhardt’s Communicative Sciences and Disorders Department has embraced it in so many areas of their work. Here’s a rundown of recent developments:

In 2016, the department launched its Bilingual Extension Program, one year later bringing in María Rosa Brea, PhD, CCC-SLP, Clinical Associate Professor, as its Director. Dr. Brea involves high-impact practices (HIPs), including service-learning projects, in her courses. Reflecting her commitment to bridge learning with service to the community, she received the University of South Florida Provost’s Outstanding Community-Engaged Teaching Award in 2015 and the NYU Steinhardt Faculty Star Award in 2018. In further support of the Bilingual Extension Program, the Department hired Visiting Assistant Professor Alisha Gandhi, who holds New York State certification as a bilingual SLP, so she could supervise our Bilingual Extension Program students in the CSD Speech-Language-Hearing Disorders Clinic.

Beyond heading up the Bilingual Extension Program, Dr. Brea also founded and is faculty advisor to an NYU student organization, the Bilingual Language and Literacy Investigative and Networking Group (BLLING), which seeks to advance knowledge about bilingualism and cultural competence in the field of Communicative Sciences and Disorders through education, research, and community outreach.

Addressing Dr. Brea’s BLLING Group in September with a presentation, Ten Tips for Speech Pathology Management for Bilingual Aphasia, was Dr. Samantha Siyambalapitiya, PhD, BSpPath (Hons I), BSc, CPSP, who stopped by the NYU Small Talk Language Development and Disorders Lab for a few weeks as a visiting scholar and collaborator. On sabbatical from Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, Dr. Siyambalapitiya spent many days working in person with her usually distant research collaborator Dr. Christina Reuterskiöld, chair of the NYU CSD department and Post-Doc Vishnu KK Nair. Dr. Siyambalapitiya is an internationally recognized researcher with expertise in a highly specialized field, focusing on understanding and managing communication disability in individuals who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD), including bilingual speakers.

This academic year (and beyond), CSD has brought in several additional scholars and researchers, greatly expanding our CLD offerings:

On campus during September, CSD hosted visiting scholar Karla N. Washington, PhD, CCC-SLP, S-LP(C), Reg. CASLPO, Associate Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Cincinnati, who collaborated with Dr. Tara McAllister and her Biofeedback Intervention Technology for Speech (BITS) lab. Dr. Washington delivered a presentation to our Research Colloquium, Measuring Speech Intelligibility in Jamaican Creole (JC)- and English-speaking Preschoolers: Validation of the Intelligibility in Context Scale in a Bilingual Population.  In it, Dr. Washington described the first validation study of the Intelligibility in Context Scale (ICS) for use with speakers of JC and English and detailed psychometric evidence regarding use of the ICS and ICS-JC in a sample of children without disorders using measures of speech sound production. This is the first study to collect ICS data using auditory and written administration with findings to suggest that auditory administration, which might be necessary for language with a new or absent written form, does not negatively impact the psychometric evidence obtained.

Vishnu KK Nair, PhD is a two-year Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Department for all of 2018 and 2019. With strong interdisciplinary research training in speech-language pathology and cognitive science, Dr. Nair completed his doctoral thesis in 2016 from the ARC Centre for Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie University, Australia. His research focuses on understanding the cognitive and linguistic consequences of bilingualism in children and adults with and without language impairment. Together with Associate Professor and Department Chair Christina Reuterskiöld, he is currently involved in international collaborations and research projects on longitudinal social-communication outcomes in bilingual children with autism and language intervention in bilingual children with developmental language disorders. Dr. Nair’s passion lies in bridging the gap between clinical and cognitive sciences and he is committed to research with a strong experimental focus and real life clinical implications for the remediation of language impairment in bilingual children and adults. This past March, Dr. Nair presented a talk to the CSD Research Colloquium entitled, Effects of bilingualism on cognitive control and novel word learning, and he also delivered a talk to the CUNY Graduate Center Colloquium on Oct 17.

Keisha T. Lindsay, PhD, CCC-SLP, came on board to the CSD Department in the NYU Provost’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program as a Steinhardt Dean’s Fellow, through August, 2020. While here at NYU, Dr. Lindsay will pursue her research, teach CSD students, embrace NYU’s vibrant intellectual life through scholarly networking opportunities, and receive co-mentoring from CSD’s chair, Dr. Christina Reuterskiöld, and Dr. Shondel Nero in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Dr. Lindsay will present at the CSD Research Colloquium on November 6, The Phonological Features of Trinidadian English (TrE) and Trinidadian English Creole (TrinEC). Beyond her ASHA certification, Dr. Lindsay is registered with the Council of the Professions Related to Medicine in Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Lindsay’s research examines how speech and language skills develop in children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, with a particular focus on language acquisition in children from the English-speaking Caribbean. A practicing clinician both in the U.S. and the English-speaking Caribbean, Dr. Lindsay uses her clinical experiences to inform her research agenda and goals.

Stay tuned for more CLD advances in CSD.