Since our founding, Fontbonne has been committed to supporting the communication needs of all. In honor of this tradition as well as the expansion of this department to other states, we spoke extensively to the Communication Disorders and Deaf Education (CDDE) about the many opportunities they have to offer.
Fontbonne University is dedicated to preparing knowledgeable, competent, and caring professionals in speech-language pathology and deaf education. Through courses and practicum experience, knowledge is developed, professional ethics and values are formed, and opportunities are provided for guided practice to foster reflective and caring therapists and teachers who will have a positive impact on individuals, families, and society. Students interested in this field have a variety of majors to choose from including some undergraduate opportunities that other universities do not offer:
- Bachelor of Arts in Deaf Education – As one of the nation’s few undergraduate programs accredited by the Council on Education of the Deaf (CED), Fontbonne offers a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to seek educator certification in the area of deaf education. Students in this program engage in coursework specifically related to deaf education with an emphasis on language and communication, as well as special education courses. Students also complete practicum experiences and student teaching in placements that vary across age, grade and communication modality. Upon completion, graduates from this program are certified teachers of the deaf (birth-12th grade) and can support learners who are deaf or hard of hearing in a multitude of educational settings.
- Bachelor of Science in Speech- Language Pathology- This program offers an exceptional foundation for future graduate studies in speech-language pathology, as well as a professional life dedicated to helping people. Students with an undergraduate degree in speech-language pathology from Fontbonne are eligible to work in Missouri as Speech-Language Pathology Assistants.
- Master of Arts in Deaf Education– This remote synchronous distance education program prepares students to serve children who are deaf or hard of hearing in inclusive educational settings. This graduate program was developed in collaboration with a variety of school partnerships to meet the needs of a diverse range of students. Scholars reside in the Northeast part of the United States, where they complete intensive field experience in a variety of settings, serving learners who are deaf or hard of hearing while earning their Fontbonne degree and educator certification.
- Master of Arts in Early Intervention in Deaf Education– For families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, early intervention is the key to a life filled with effective communication and interaction. In Fontbonne’s Early Intervention in Deaf Education (EIDE) program, students focus on supporting the caregivers of young children in critical early years when listening and spoken language development can lead to increased future growth. This program emphasizes family-centered and interprofessional practices to prepare scholars to serve young children who are deaf/hard of hearing and their families. This program is offered in person in St. Louis or through remote synchronous education.
- Master of Science in Speech- Language Pathology– With a graduate degree — a requirement for employment across the country — scholars can look forward to a career with many opportunities to promote communication. Scholars in the graduate SLP program support individuals of all ages with a range of (dis)abilities including cerebral palsy, cleft palate, deafness, stroke, brain injury and autism, while preparing to support their client’s communication, speech, language, fluency, and voice.
Students are not just learning in the classrooms, but also in the field. Students in the Communication Disorders and Deaf Education department have opportunities to engage in various practicum experiences. These practicum experiences afford them opportunities to work alongside professionals who hold a range of expertise. Students also participate in the student organization of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA), where they analyze peer-reviewed literature through journal clubs, raise funds for the campus clinic, and hone their professional skills through service and scholarship.
Graduate students are required to earn more than 400 clinical clock hours working with patients and clients in order to graduate and be eligible for licensure and certification. The department aims to provide a supported teaching environment for first-year graduate clinicians through on-campus clinics. In St. Louis, Fontbonne University’s Eardley Family Clinic for Speech, Language, and Hearing is a no-cost clinic dedicated to meeting the needs of individuals of all ages and economic means. The clinic is grounded in a family-centered philosophy designed to improve the quality of life for those impacted by a communication disorder. Adult community members participate in the clinic services aimed at improving communication to enable them to interact with family and friends, engage in activities, or return to work. Young children and school-age learners participate in the clinic to receive developmental assessments as well as group and individual intervention to support their full participation in play, school, and family life. Graduate clinicians meet with their clients two times a week for 30-60 minutes sessions, focused on the individual goals of the client and their family. Sessions are offered face-to-face or through teletherapy
This hands-on in-field experience is not just limited to the St. Louis community. Fontbonne offers a graduate SLP satellite campus with clinical experience in Kansas City, Missouri housed on the Avila University campus. Beginning in January 2023, Fontbonne will open a clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota, housed on St. Catherine University campus. Scholars enrolled in the graduate SLP program connected with the St. Paul clinic will use a remote synchronous model of instruction in addition to their clinical experience.
For students considering Communication Disorders and Deaf Education, this career path is demanding, but absolutely rewarding.