Welcome to the second anniversary issue of Plural Community, the free newsletter by your community, for your community.

Although we often draw on our authors as sources of articles, we also seek and endeavor to publish articles from other sources that are of genuine interest to the world community of clinicians and educators in the communication sciences and their disorders. Recently, during the American Academy of Otolaryngology conference, Dr. Bruce Campbell from Wisconsin shared with us details of his small-scale, yet admirable personal work in trying to make books available to otolaryngologists in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and, on a wider, organized scale, we have covered the great work done by the Trinh Foundation Australia in developing SLP education in Vietnam. Regular readers will also recall our coverage last month of the human interest story from Nancy Leupold that developed into a countrywide charitable movement for oral and head and neck cancer sufferers: SPOHNC.

We hope that these articles have informed as well as entertained you and hope also that you will enjoy this month’s feature article, which focuses on the work done by a few dedicated volunteers in setting up a speech and language therapy course in Uganda, in East Africa, and reports on their first graduates.

Continuing on the theme of charitable work, we are delighted to help promote the work of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation. This year’s fundraiser will again be held at the home of Plural's CEO, Angie Singh, and further information is given below.

Additionally, congratulations are extended to Sherrey Stich from Fargo, who was the winner of our monthly competition for October and wins a free copy of the new, second edition of Meeting the Challenges of Oral and Head and Neck Cancer: A Guide for Survivors and Caregivers. For details of this month’s competition, see below!

And finally, don’t forget to check out our list of new and recent releases—for those of you attending ASHA, you can view them all at booth 907.

Thanks for reading on…

Case Studies

Looking to the future with Uganda’s first Speech and Language Therapists

Helen Barrett with Marise Fernandes, SLT volunteer, Kampala, Isla Jones, Caroline Veale, and Julia McGeown, SLT VSO volunteers

After three years of dedicated study, unlimited enthusiasm, and the courage to pursue a profession that few people have heard of in Africa, the first 12 [1]East African–trained SLTs completed their studies in December 2010. This exciting event was a major cause for celebration among the students themselves and the volunteer SLTs involved in running the course. The landmark occasion was duly marked by holding a workshop that focused on creating a sustainable profession. The aim is to embed speech and language therapy services into Uganda's health and education systems. The workshop was followed by a public event to launch speech and language therapy as a new profession in Uganda.

A developing service

We are proud to be part of a long line of SLTs recruited by Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) to develop speech and language therapy services in Uganda. Since the late 1980s, volunteer therapists have been based at Mulago National Referral Hospital (MNRH) in Kampala, Uganda's capital city. Although very busy, the clinic is accessible to only a small proportion of Uganda's population. Unpublished research shows 90% of people accessing the service come from within a 15-km radius of Kampala (Robinson and Tumweheire, 2001), yet 86% [2]of Ugandans live in rural areas (UBOS, 2010). Hartley and Wirz[3] (2002) estimate that fewer than 2% of disabled people in Uganda receive any services or support due to their remote location and level of poverty.

As a result, most people with communication or swallowing difficulties in Uganda have limited or no access to speech and language therapy services. Although very little research has been completed in East Africa with regards to communication and swallowing difficulties, it is estimated that there are at least three million people living with communication difficulties in Uganda (Hartley and Wirz,[4] 1999). This number is thought to be increasing due to a rapidly expanding population (Uganda is set to have the highest population growth in the world at 3.3% [5]per annum, compared to the average of 1.2% [World Bank, 2009]); and an increase in road traffic accidents (with the second highest rate of accidents in Africa [Balagadde, 2011]).

From left: Isimbwa Joseph, Filder Mary Otim, Ibanda John, Kyambadde David, Wanyenze Juliet, and Aryanyijuka Clemence.

Voluntary support

VSO therapists have long been involved in training and advocating for a speech and language therapy service that is self-sustaining; in other words, run by Ugandans and absorbed into the current health and education systems. In 2002, stakeholders from MNRH, Makerere University, and the Ministries of Public Service, Health, and Education agreed that a university course should be created to train East African SLTs. They also agreed that the government should employ these therapists and that there should be a link with current health, education, and community programmes (see Robinson et al, 2002).

In 2008, the first students enrolled in the course and began their formal training for a bachelor’s degree in speech and language therapy. The course is currently run by long-term VSO volunteers working within the medical school, assisted by volunteer lecturers teaching specialist modules. Throughout the past three years, we have been lobbying the Ugandan Government to build on the work started in 2002 to create posts for newly qualified SLTs.

From left: Omoding Julius, Sarah Raheja, Ahabwe Precious, Helen Barrett, Nanjaya Nathan, and Ibanda John.

Spreading the word

The December 2010 workshop aimed to bring together key institutions and individuals to agree on the actions needed to ensure that speech and language therapy services are incorporated into Uganda's health and education systems. The workshop was a great success, with guest speeches from Dr. Harriet Mayanja, the dean of the Makerere University School of Medicine; the then MNRH director, Dr. Edward Ddumba; and the then acting director general of health services in Uganda, Dr. Kenya Mugisha.

In his keynote address, Dr. Mugisha pledged to employ SLTs within Ugandan health services. During the workshop great advances were made in agreeing on action points, job descriptions, and pay scales for SLTs to be taken forward to the Ministries of Health, Education, Finance, and Public Service. In his closing address, Dr. Ddumba also pledged financial assistance to extend the speech and language therapy services at the hospital.

The evening public launch event was attended by workshop members (from the ministries, Makerere and Kyambogo Universities, MNRH, and VSO), staff of local schools and nongovernmental organisations, service users, and the Ugandan media. It was an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of speech and language therapy as a profession and highlight the potential to employ new graduates to provide essential services countrywide. The whole day was a real success and was well publicised, with graduates and staff featuring in national radio, television, and newspaper interviews and articles.

The word about speech and language therapy is spreading across Kampala and beyond—especially as one of our graduates is Tanzanian and has returned to work in Dar-es-Salaam. We also have a cohort of third[6]-year students due to complete their degree in May 2012, including a Tanzanian and a Rwandese student, who will pave the way for speech and language therapy services in their own countries upon qualification. The next intake of six first-year students recruited from Uganda started in August 2011.

  • Fewer than 2% of disabled people in Uganda receive services or support due to their remote location and level of poverty
  • The first 12 [7]East African-trained SLTs completed their studies in December 2010
  • Government pledges to employ SLTs within Ugandan health services
  • Next intake of 6 first-year students started in August 2011

More to do

December 2010 marked a significant milestone in the history of speech and language therapy in Uganda and East Africa, but the challenge is far from over. The services are underfunded and resources are difficult to access—particularly therapy materials, journals, and textbooks. Our students pay more than £3,000 to complete the course and often find keeping up with their payments incredibly difficult in a context where many have families to support.

Any donations of books, equipment, or funds are always very gratefully received. We are also looking to develop partnerships with institutions or private organisations who would consider funding specialist SLTs to come out to lecture on the course for short periods of time (from four to six weeks). If you would like to support the development of speech and language therapy services in Uganda, please email: speechtherapyuganda@yahoo.com. You can watch a short film about the Uganda speech and language therapy programme and see the work of the students and VSO volunteers here.

Helen Barrett, SLT, Course Coordinator (VSO) School of Medicine, Makerere University. Email: helen.sltuganda@yahoo.com. Marise Fernandes, SLT volunteer Kampala, Isla Jones, Caroline Veale, and Julia McGeown, SLT VSO volunteers.



Balagadde, S. (2011, July 20). Public transport watchdog suspends Teso Coach operations. New Vision. Retrieved from http://allafrica.com/stories/201107221021.html.

Hartley, S., & Wirz, S. (1999) Service priorities for children with limited communication ability based on disability rather than impairment analysis. Postgraduate Doctor Africa, 21(4), 89–92.

Hartley, S., & Wirz, S. (2002) Development of a communication disability model and its implication on service delivery in low-income countries. Social Science and Medicine, 54, 1543–1557.

Robinson, H., et al. (2002). Preliminary planning training speech and language therapists in Uganda. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, 55(6), 322–328.

Robinson, H., & Tumweheire, G. (1999–2001) The provision of a centralised Speech and Language Therapy Service in Uganda: A three-year case note study. Unpublished report. Available from speechtherapyuganda@yahoo.com.

Uganda Bureau of Statistics. (2010). UGANDA National Household Survey.

World Bank. (2009). World Development Indicators and Global Development Finance. Available online at www.data.worldbank.org/indicator.


We would like to thank VSO and the past and present volunteers for making the creation of a speech and language therapy profession in Uganda possible. We would also like to thank all our donors, well-wishers, and partners for their continued support. With special thanks to the pioneer students of the SLT Uganda degree course—congratulations.

Stop press

Makerere University brought the graduation ceremony forward from January 2012 to 22 July 2011. At the ceremony, Professors Celestino Obua (Deputy Principal Makerere University College of Health Sciences) and Harriet Mayanja (Dean, School of Medicine) pledged their support.

[Note: this article first appeared in the Bulletin of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, UK. (c) 2011 RCSLT] Republished with permission????

About the Author

Helen Barrett is Speech and Language Therapy Course Coordinator (VSO) in the Department of ENT at the School of Medicine in Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. Email: helen.sltuganda@yahoo.com.

An Elegant Oceanside Charity Event

Once again, Plural is delighted to host the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation’s fundraiser at the La Jolla Home of ASHFoundation Board Member, and Plural CEO, Angie Singh.

Just to give you an idea of what to expect, below we have included a selection of photographs from the last ASHF event held at the house, then hosted by Mrs. Singh and her late husband Dr. Sadanand Singh.


ASHF donors and award recipients will join for an evening which aims to further ASHFoundation's innovative research grant and scholarship programs, a cause dear to Angie and her late husband and the ASHFoundation's special champion, Dr. Sadanand Singh.


If you are attending, make sure to visit Plural Publishing at the following conferences—receive an exclusive conference discount, meet our authors, and browse our new publications.

November 2011-May 2012

November 2011
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual Convention
San Diego, CA
More Details Here

February 2012
Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual Convention
Rosemont, IL
More Details Here

March 2012
Audiology Now!
Boston, MA
More Details Here

California Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual State Convention
San Jose, CA
More Details Here

April 2012
COSM – Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meetings
San Diego, CA
More Details Here

World Congress of Audiology
More Details Here

May 2012
Voice Foundation Annual Symposium
More Details Here
New Releases

General Healthcare

Singing and Voice


Speech & Language Pathology

Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery


Competition time!
This month, we are offering a copy of Arthur Boothroyd and Janice Gatty’s  The Deaf Child in a Hearing Family: Nurturing Development.

To enter, all you have to do is email your name and address to pluralcommunity, placing “November 2011 Competition” in the subject line. The drawing will take place on or around November 21, 2011, and the winner will be announced in the December 2011 issue of Plural Community.

Congratulations again to Sherrey Stich from Fargo, who was the winner of our monthly competition for October and wins a free copy of the new, second edition of Meeting the Challenges of Oral and Head and Neck Cancer, A Guide for Survivors and Caregivers. A copy is on its way.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and check out the Plural Blog for news, updates, information, and feedback on everything going on in the Plural community

Interested in submitting an article or case study? Or just want to comment on anything here in Plural Community or elsewhere? Contact us at pluralcommunity anytime.


*Discount promotions are available for individual purchasers only, excluding wholesalers and resellers*

© 2006-2011 Plural Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Follow Us on Facebook and Twitter | Plural Blog