Jobs NSW awards $100K to expand speech pathology services

Tuesday, 21 January, 2020

Jobs NSW awards $100K to expand speech pathology services

A $100,000 grant from Jobs NSW is set to boost Australians’ access to speech pathology services.

The grant, awarded to CSIRO Data 61 start-up and telehealth software platform Coviu, will help the company deliver speech pathology assessments via video consultation — making the service available even to those in rural and remote Australia who are currently without a local speech pathologist, according to a Coviu blog post.

The sessions are designed to replicate the experience of in-person assessments and will be particularly aimed at identifying children with language disorders, Coviu said.

“The grant will be used to extend Coviu’s partnership with ... Pearson Clinical, with a view to use Australia as a testbed for this new speech-language pathology delivery model,” the company added.

“To identify children with speech and language difficulties, you first need to get the standardised assessment methods reliably working online. This grant takes us a large step closer towards reaching this goal,” Coviu CEO Dr Silvia Pfieffer explained in the blog post.

Such methods include the use of a Q-Global version of the ‘Stimulus Book’, which provides visual stimuli for testing ‘listening comprehension’, ‘early reading skills’, ‘reading comprehension’, ‘math problem solving’ and ‘expressive vocabulary component of oral expression’, according to Pearson’s website. Through Coviu’s platform, both user and assessor can clearly view the book, with assessors able to see where users have touched or clicked on the book. This helps them review the accuracy of the user’s interaction, Coviu explained.

Angela Kinsella, Consultant Speech Pathologist at Pearson Clinical, said that: “While face-to-face sessions will always be the preferred method for speech pathology assessment and treatment, this isn’t always possible. The Coviu platform mirrors the in-person interaction seamlessly — it’s really the next best thing.”

To help convert their research into practice, Coviu and Pearson have also partnered with University of Canberra Assistant Professor Rebecca Sutherland.

Additionally, “A cohort of speech pathologists will be recruited and provide feedback for three months to determine what obstacles they’re facing in using the technology to deliver services to rural and remote patients,” Coviu said.

The project builds on Sutherland’s previous assessment of the effectiveness of the technology for language assessments, completed for her PhD thesis, Coviu said.

“It’s exciting to see the impact of our research being translated into practice. Working with Pearson Clinical and Coviu means that we will be able to make this technology available to speech pathologists across the country by the end of this project,” Sutherland concluded.

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