Event to shine light on aphasia advocacy

Brock University’s Department of Applied Linguistics is hosting an online event to provide insight into aphasia, the loss of speech due to stroke or brain damage.

Lori Buchanan, Professor of Psychology at the University of Windsor, will present the public talk, which will explore ways in which the world can be made more welcoming and accommodating of people with the condition.

Held Wednesday, June 2 from 1 to 2 p.m., the event comes on the heels of Speech and Hearing Month, part of Speech & Audiology Canada’s (SAC) efforts to raise awareness throughout the month of May.

Buchanan’s talk will outline her collaboration with students to found Aphasia-Friendly Canada, a non-profit organization with a stated goal to “eliminate the societal roadblocks that contribute to the loneliness and isolation that many people with communication disorders face.”

In particular, she will describe Aphasia-Friendly Canada’s Business Campaign, which provides certification training for businesses and helps them better serve individuals with aphasia. The business campaign has been taken up by various organizations, from municipal governments to care homes to movie theatres and coffee shops.

Chair of Applied Linguistics and Associate Professor Lynn Dempsey says the talk falls in line with the department’s interest in “the application of linguistic theory and research to real-world issues.”

“Throughout the month of May, we are striving to highlight the importance of communication health and show members of the Brock community how they can learn more about it — whether through undergraduate courses offered by our department or via public lectures like this one,” says Dempsey. “With aphasia being a particular focus of this year’s SAC campaign, we are delighted to provide guests with an opportunity to learn about Dr. Lori Buchanan’s Aphasia-Friendly Canada initiative.”

Assistant Professor Andrew Lee, who helped organize the talk, says aphasia is one of the main topics discussed in many of his classes, from the department’s introductory course to his upper year courses in Applied Phonetics and Bilingualism.

“This lecture will help our students advance their understanding of aphasia not only in academic settings but also in clinical settings,” says Lee. “Given that most of our students become practitioners, whether speech-language pathologists or language instructors, this lecture will enable them to learn how the Aphasia-Friendly Canada campaign advocates the rights of Canadians with aphasia and increase their awareness of inclusion, as well.”

Dempsey expects the talk will inspire both research and advocacy.

“The Aphasia-Friendly initiative is an excellent example of knowledge mobilization and knowledge translation, so we think researchers from a variety of backgrounds will be interested in learning about how Dr. Buchanan and her team developed it,” says Dempsey. “This is also a great opportunity for Speech-Language Pathologists and members of the public to learn more about how they can advocate for and support people with aphasia.”

All are welcome to attend the free talk, but advance registration is required before Monday, May 31. Anyone with questions is welcome to contact Lynn Dempsey or Andrew Lee.

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