DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > DePaul Speech and Language Clinic opens to serve Chicago

DePaul Speech and Language Clinic opens to serve Chicago

Speech Language Pathology program opens donation-based clinic, will provide bilingual services

DePaul Speech Pathology student meets with children
Hanna Senanayake, a graduate student in the Speech Language Pathology program, meets with children in the new DePaul Speech and Language Clinic. (DePaul University/Dakota Johnston)
Premature babies, adults with Parkinson’s disease and patients with COVID-19 all have something in common: they can benefit from care from a speech language pathologist. In Chicago, however, a shortage of providers, long wait lists and high health care costs have made it difficult for many to access these services.

This fall, DePaul University will open a Speech and Language Clinic in Lincoln Park to offer donation-based services for children and adults. Launched in tandem with a new master’s degree program in Speech Language Pathology, faculty and students expect to treat 400 patients in the clinic’s first year.

“Our clinic is the first of its kind in Chicago. We are expanding access to speech and language services, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay,” says Jayne Jaskolski, director of the speech language pathology graduate program.

Speech language pathology is the newest addition to the College of Science and Health’s expanding portfolio of pre-professional and professional degrees in the health sciences. In addition to housing the clinic, the newly renovated space will hold classrooms and hands-on learning areas for the occupational therapy graduate program set to launch in fall of 2022. The School of Nursing, as well as the Department of Psychology, also will collaborate on research and learning within the clinic. 

“The clinic will help to expand our college’s interdisciplinary work and augment real-world opportunities for our students,” says Stephanie Dance-Barnes, dean for the College of Science and Health.

Students in speech language pathology will work alongside faculty and provide care and therapy to children and adults across the full range of speech, language, communication and swallowing disorders. The clinic will offer services in English and Spanish. 

“We are preparing speech language pathologists to meet the diverse and urgent needs of the Chicago community and beyond, with a special concern for those who are most vulnerable,” Jaskolski says.

Increasing access to services in Chicago

A focus on diversity and access has shaped both DePaul’s clinic and academic program. DePaul will offer a bilingual English-Spanish certificate program, as well as specialized training for providing speech and language services to bilingual families and their children with disabilities. 

“Faculty in the program are diverse, experienced and dynamic,” Jaskolski says. “They’re innovative thinkers who use cutting-edge resources and evidence-based knowledge in their teaching.” 

Treasyri Williams Wood
DePaul Speech and Language clinic director Treasyri Williams Wood (right) meets with fellow faculty members, students and community member Yvonne Huntley (left) in the newly renovated space at 2400 N. Sheffield Ave. The facility also will be home to the Occupational Therapy program, slated to launch in 2022. These images were taken earlier this summer under different COVID precautions for vaccinated people. Currently masks are required for everyone indoors at DePaul, per local public health guidelines. (DePaul University/Dakota Johnston)
One of the faculty members joining DePaul is clinic director Treasyri Williams Wood, who spent more than a year working with long-haul COVID-19 patients at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Before the pandemic, Woods’ research focused on elderly patients, especially those experiencing dementia.

“We built this clinic to meet this moment​. We want patients and their families to feel welcome and included here,” Wood says. 

The clinic is set up to serve patients from a wide range of backgrounds. The facility includes a spacious waiting area, a colorful classroom setting for children and leading-edge technology that allows DePaul students to observe clinicians in practice. Local agencies, including Marillac St. Vincent Family Services, have already begun referring patients to the clinic for evaluation. Other community allies include Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Speech Therapy, and Communicate and Connect Therapy. 

Building diversity in the profession

Inclusivity, both in the clinic and academics, is a priority in the Speech Language Pathology program. 

“You can’t be what you can’t see. We are prioritizing being culturally responsive in the framework of our program,” Wood says. “It is much easier to build an inclusive, equitable program from the start than it is to try to dismantle an oppressive one.” 

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the field is 96% female and 91% white.

To address disparities, DePaul embraced a holistic admissions process for its inaugural class, looking beyond standardized test scores to welcome students with academic excellence in other areas. As a result of these efforts, nearly one third of the inaugural class identifies as a minority.

“We really want to make sure we are training teachers, innovators and leaders,” Wood says. 

The DePaul community is invited to attend an open house for the Speech and Language Clinic at 2400 N. Sheffield Ave. on Sept. 21 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Faculty from the Occupational Therapy program will also be available to show their areas within the facility as well. 

Visit the clinic's website​ for more information.

Kristin Claes Mathews is the assistant director of ​news and integrated content for University Marketing and Communications.