Callier Center treats, researches hearing disorders

The UTD Callier Center for Communication Disorders nurtures a unique relationship between the university and a patient treatment center for communication disorders while providing the community with a much-needed facility for hearing and language treatment.

The center, located on the north side of campus, offers graduate level students a facility that houses research labs for communication disorders as well as the opportunity to work with patients in a clinical setting.

“There are only two or three such places in the country where integrated research, clinical services and student training takes place in as comprehensive a fashion and has this professional clinic aspect,” said Bert Moore, dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. “Not only do we have faculty who deliver services, we have professional clinicians who are experts in either speech pathology, audiology or psychology.”

The Callier Hearing and Speech Center, a product of a trust created by the estate of Lena Callier, traces its beginnings to June 1963, according to the Callier web site. Located in the basement of Parkland Hospital, the facility eventually found its new home in 1968 on Inwood Road in Dallas.

In 1975, the Callier Center for Communication Disorders, a former collaboration of the Pilot School for the Deaf, the Dallas Speech and Hearing Center and the Dallas Council for the Deaf, merged with UTD under the School of Human Development (changed in 2003 to the School of Behavior and Brain Sciences), according to the Center’s web site.

The dedication of the UTD Callier Center on Sept. 17, 2003, expanded the geographic area to which Callier could offer services.

“Since the largest growth in Dallas has been occurring in the far north Dallas area, it only made sense to locate on the current university property to allow easier access for patients from McKinney, Allen, Plano and Frisco,” said Donise Pearson, program director of Speech-Language Pathology at the Callier Center’s Richardson campus.

Today the downtown center and the on-campus facility work hand-in-hand.

According to the UTD Callier Center web site, the audiology program works with other organizations like the Dallas Independent School District to reach children with hearing impairments, offering audiology services at schools throughout the district.

The center also monitors the annual audiometric screening of thousands of children through Dallas County Head Start, a program that “provides comprehensive health, nutritional, educational, social and mental services to children from birth to five years of age who meet federal poverty guidelines,” according to the Head Start of Greater Dallas web site.

But patients come from all over.

Moore said the state-mandated neo-natal screening for hearing impairment draws a large number of patients to the center.

“Often when they fail their hearing test, there’s some indication that their hearing’s not normal, they are referred to Callier early on,” said Moore.

The UTD Callier Center offers a variety of programs in speech-language pathology as well. Although the age range of patients is relatively evenly distributed, there are programs specifically targeting language development and emergence for children, according to a brochure published by the UTD Callier Center.

The programs range from Small-group Intervention for Language Emergence (SmILE), a program geared towards two- to three-year-olds which encourages language development, to Preschool Language Development Programs (PLDP), a class for three- to five-year-olds that encourages speech advancement in a classroom setting.

“The Richardson campus offers several group therapy programs for language disorders children and school-aged children who stutter,” Pearson said.

The UTD Callier Center is not state-funded and thus relies heavily on grants, contracts, donations and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Callier’s affiliation with the United Way allows the center to use a sliding scale for payment of treatment, meaning lower income families can be better served.

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