Teleconferencing therapy can help rural children, UMass language pathologists say

Facing a chronic and critical shortage of special education therapists, some 300 rural Massachusetts school districts will be approached this fall by University of Massachusetts Amherst speech and language researchers who have a plan to bring therapy to children and their families via live, secure video teleconferencing over the Internet, known as telepractice.

Mary Andrianopoulos, associate professor of communication disorders, with doctoral candidates Michelle Boisvert and Nerissa Hall at the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, home of one of the top communication disorders programs in the nation, are partnering with hardware and software giant Cisco Systems to provide specialized “smart” classrooms and telepractice where students in isolated areas can link to expert therapy services without traveling for hours or braving bad weather.

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