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Aphasia Access Conversations

How We’re Reducing Communication Barriers

Aphasia Access Conversations brings you the latest aphasia resources, tips, and aha moments from Life Participation professionals who deliver way more than stroke and aphasia facts. Topics include aphasia group treatment ideas, communication access strategies, plus ways for growing awareness and funds for your group aphasia therapy program. This podcast is produced by Aphasia Access.

Mar 9, 2021

During this episode, Jerry Hoepner, a faculty member in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, has a conversation with Dr. Gayle DeDe about the upcoming Aphasia Access Leadership Summit. 

Take aways:

  1. Get to know the back story about Gayle’s LPAA mentors. 
  2. Learn how the planning committee strategically distributed the schedule to reduce Zoom fatigue and to retain as much of the close knit, reunion feel that past Summit attendees love as possible. 
  3. Hear a sneak peek about the Gathertown app, which will be used in our social get togethers at the summit. Make your own avatar (MYOA). 
  4. Shout out to members of the planning committee!
  5. Multiple opportunities to learn about telepractice. 
  6. New to this year’s summit! Accepted oral talks. 
  7. Hear about the great lineup of invited speakers. Check out the Aphasia Access Facebook page and Twitter feed!

Interview transcript: 

Jerry Hoepner: Hi Gayle, nice to see you today.

Gayle DeDe: Thank you, nice to see you too.

Jerry: Long time, no talk. It's been at least two days. Well, I’m really excited to have a conversation with you about the upcoming Leadership Summit and kind of what we can expect when it comes to the summit. Before we jump into that conversation, can we start out just with a kind of a traditional question of mine just asking about your influences and your mentors in the life participation approach.

Gayle: Sure. It's hard because there's just too many people to name them all. I have been raised academically and clinically by a village. In the traditional sense, so I would say that the first sort of really important mentorship that wasn't exactly about the life participation approach, but is related, I think. It was my undergraduate thesis mentors, so this is going back many, many years when I was in psychology and linguistics and I was very interested in those topics and I was doing a thesis with someone who is in the department of communication sciences and disorders, at my university. And as part of that I was able to go and observe treatment sessions, with one of my mentors, who was a speech pathologist and I had this epiphany, lightbulb moment; that this work that I really enjoyed That was really interesting to me from a theoretical perspective could have an influence on real life people and that that was what I wanted, but it wasn't enough to be purely theoretical that I wanted to be able to take what I was doing and apply it to people.

Jerry:  That's a great epiphany and definitely a life participation moment for sure.

Gayle: um and then my PhD mentors are both, you know, strongly rooted in the cycle in mystic domain Gloria Waters and David Kaplan but also were really good about thinking clinically and thinking about relationships between theory and practice, and so I think that also had a really significant impact on me and how I think about clinic in general um and then. Liz Hoover actually hired me for my clinical fellowship is an exciting side note, but she when she came to Boston University. They started the official resource center when I was still in graduate school at BU, and so I was able to run some groups in that context and have my first real experiences with aphasia groups run within a life participation approach. And that was very impactful I ended up sort of stepping back from that to do more psycholinguistically oriented research for several years. At the University of Arizona, while I was there, I got to be pretty good friends with Audrey Holland, who is a professor emeritus at University of Arizona, and she helped me in a million different ways and mentored me in a million different ways. But one of those was when I was trying to think about where I really wanted to go with my career trying to decide if I was in the kind of position I wanted for the long term. She was really encouraging and help me think through what it was, I really wanted and without that I don't know that I would have been able to have been in the mental space to make the move from University of Arizona to Temple where I'm able to be the director of an Aphasia Center. And then the last group, I would mention is just the members of the Aphasia Community at Temple have had an enormous impact on my life as a researcher as a clinician and just as a human.

Jerry: Yeah, what a what a great bridge from that theoretical background too strong applications with Audrey and Liz's guidance. And I 100% agree and I've heard so many aphasiologists talk about this that the people within our groups are our best teachers and really. I just continue to learn every day when I interact with my group members as well, so that's really that's really outstanding and valuable so appreciate that. Um, so thinking about that you know as you talked about what you wanted to do, how has the LPAA framework kind of influenced your research you're teaching your clinical work? I know that's a big question.

Gayle: Indeed, yes, so in making the transition for me part of what I wanted was to be able to do clinic for clinics sake. In the kind of track I was on previously it would have it felt like it would be difficult for me to do clinic outside of a research setting and I wanted to be able to tailor clinic to the people I was working with and you know, with groups, even though you're in a group setting like we add groups, depending on what our group members expressed interest in, so I felt like I could actually do that in the setting I'm in now um and then just More generally, I have found that when I'm thinking about clinic I start at the end. When I'm talking with students, the question is always you know where does this person want to get to themselves and what can we do, based on what we know of the evidence to help them get there, how are we going to implement treatment protocols to get them to where they want to be, or as close to their as where they want to be as we can.

Jerry: Outstanding I believe another very fine aphasiologist once said, begin with the end in mind, Aura Kagan has had that influence on all of us so.

Gayle: Yes indeed, and then from Audrey, I think that trying to focus on what people with aphasia can do not just on what they can't do, focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses.

Jerry: Yeah, what terrific guidance and a terrific way to spring off into our conversation about the aphasia access leadership summit coming up pretty soon in April; nice to see it coming to fruition for sure.

Gayle: Wow, I'm very excited.

Jerry: Gayle, I know you in the planning committee have done a lot of planning to make this virtual event feel like a get together, so it feels as close knit and interactive as possible. So, many past summit attendees see the summit as the kin to a family reunion type of feeling right about the steps the team has taken to retain that feeling.

Gayle: Sure, first of all I want to point out that you are part of this team. You and I are the co-chairs of the summit. So, we have done a lot to try to think about how to keep a more community-based feeling with the summit, so one thing is that we've planned synchronous talks where there's opportunities to ask questions online, but also if people aren't able to attend the synchronous top. They can watch some of the talks after the fact, and then communicate by discussion board so there's still the opportunity to interact and then we've planned purposefully to have some time for unstructured informal conversation so we're using a platform called Gathertown, which essentially is like a little like a big Zoom room, with little separate areas in it and you can enter into the gather town space, then you can see who is around, and you can have a little avatar that you can move to join conversations  with people you know and to join different conversations to see your friends and be able to catch up so it's not you know it's better than live cocktail party and that there's not so much background noise. But there's still that feel of you can see someone across the room who you haven't seen for a long time and go say hi to them. So, that's pretty exciting, so we have a BYOB cocktail party scheduled for Thursday night and then we'll also be using Gathertown during the day on Friday and then also at the end of the day, on Saturday so as people are on their way out, they can chat with their friends and make new friends.

Jerry: Terrific so with my little avatar I could walk over to Audrey Holland and have a conversation about her mentoring, have you those kinds of things that'd be fabulous. I like the idea, you know of having walking around in this little blue avatar, right? just like the movie.

Gayle: Just like it.

Jerry: Just kidding. Um, terrific so that sounds like we've put a lot of thought into just achieving that kind of close-knit feel and trying not to get overwhelmed with all of the zoom time and creative ways to make that happen.

Gayle: yeah.

Jerry: Terrific! Hey, you know, before we jump any further how about we just give a big shout out to our planning committee for all of the time that they spent contributing ideas to that you know developing an online conference that really does facilitate that close knit feel and for all their work reviewing a lot of proposals so who should we shout out to.

Gayle: And so, in alphabetical order and we had Jamie Azios, Mary Beth Clark, Will Evans, Katarina Haley, Trish Hambridge, Nidhi Mahendra, Maria Munoz, Catherine Off,  Andrea Ruelling, and Debbie Yones were all on our committee and gave really fantastic feedback from lots of different perspectives.

Jerry: Absolutely, maybe a virtual round of applause, here we don't want to anyone's ear drums on the podcast but yeah, thank them so much for the work that contributed for sure.

Alright, so we know that sitting in chairs and staring at a screen all day long can really get to be exhausting. I think we've all pretty much learned that lesson, this year, if nothing else. So, what kinds of things, specifically, have you done to break up the schedule, so that attendees stay connected and kind of reduce that zoom fatigue.

Gayle: Yeah, so we did a couple different things, first of all, we spread out talks across the week, so the way the conference is structured they'll be for a full week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday there'll be talks from 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm (CST) every day those will be synchronous so attendees can watch them live (Note all times are Central time zone). And if that doesn't work with your schedule, you can watch it later and then like I said communicate with the speakers using discussion boards. For Friday and Saturday, we tried to keep the days relatively short, and we also built in some different like what we call mind and body breaks so, for example, Aimee Dietz’s group will be talking about yoga with people who have aphasia with her team and part of that will involve some demonstrations of aphasia friendly yoga So hopefully our attendees can get up and get moving a little.

Jerry: Absolutely and nice to kind of get that midway stretch and still be learning, while we're stretching so that'll be really great.

Gayle: Sure, so, in addition to the body and mind break Will Evans and his group will be talking about aphasia games for health which is a prototype for using games for people with aphasia feature friendly games so that's another way that we're going to be able to have sort of a less research heavy talk where you're still learning but it's you know a little calmer, maybe.

Jerry: Sounds like fun, right?

Gayle: Yes.

Jerry: Well, obviously we wouldn't be having this conversation, the same way we're having it right now, if it weren't for COVID, right? Our world changed with the onset of COVID and there's a rapid shift to the virtual telerehab format. Can you share a little bit about who our invited are and how they're going to address those current issues?

Gayle: Yeah, we have a couple of different ways, so, first of all, on Tuesday we're having a panel on telepractice for people with aphasia and what I'm particularly excited about there is that we have people who have been doing telepractice for quite a long time, like Judy Walker along with people who are relatively new to using telepractice, and then we also have two people with aphasia who will be on the panel as stakeholders to talk about their experiences of telepractice.

Jerry: That's going to be terrific.

Gayle: Yeah, and then another way that we're addressing this is by inviting Jane Marshall who's going to be talking about Eva Park for people who don't know Eva Park is a virtual world that was designed for people with aphasia in order to practice functional communication, you can hold groups there. It's a really interesting space and they've been working on Eva park for a very long time, so they've done a lot of work around how to work with people with aphasia in a virtual space so I'm also really excited to hear about that, and then we also have several poster sessions about the transition to tell a practice, including some about transitioning music groups which I am super excited about.

Jerry: Agreed, sounds terrific well speaking of invited speakers how about a little bit of a at least a taste or an overview of what those invited speakers will discuss.

Gayle: Yeah, so I mentioned a couple of them already and we also have Charles Ellis who's going to be talking about health care outcomes and health care disparities for people with aphasia which I'm really excited about. And then we're also having what we were informally calling the master class on aphasia groups. It's a panel conversation with people who are really just experts in running conversation groups, and they are going to be talking about various aspects of how groups are put together how you run them what kinds of things you're thinking about during group. And we sat in on some of the earliest planning meetings and I learned so much during just the planning meetings I'm ecstatic to hear what they have come up with in the time since so that's really exciting.

Jerry: Agreed, and like you said they're reluctant to call themselves master clinicians but this is a unique opportunity to look over their shoulder. We get to see how they think, and why they do what they do so I agree it's going to be very exciting.

Gayle: Yeah, and just thinking about you know the there's such a range and how we all implement groups it'll be really interesting to hear how different masters clinicians implement different concepts and I'm just I'm very excited. Then another really exciting thing on Saturday is we're going to have Karen Sage talking about therapeutic alliance with people who have aphasia and then, following on the tales of that Katarina Haley will be talking about collaborative goal setting for people with aphasia so really focusing on how we can work together with people who have aphasia to maximize treatment outcomes.

Jerry: Absolutely, that's going to be just a terrific pairing of those two ago so well together outstanding. Right? Well, this is the first year that we will have accepted proposals really exceptional proposals as oral presentations. Can you tell us a little bit about the accepted oral presentations?

Gayle: Sure, so we have three accepted talks I should mention here that we had many, many more submissions for oral talks than we could possibly accommodate so we had to say no to a lot of really fantastic talks.

Jerry: There were several and all of them were really terrific so.

Gayle: Yeah, it was we had to make some painful choices. And so, the three talks that we have were universally acclaimed by the reviewers and also have. A lot of relevance for both research and clinical perspectives so Marion Leaman and Brent Archer are going to be talking about empowering people with aphasia to initiate topics of conversation. There will also be a talk by Jamie Azios, Jamie Lee, and Roberta Elman about running virtual book groups and how to encourage engagement in virtual book groups. And then finally Jackie Hinckley and Janet Patterson are going to be presenting results of a study, where people with aphasia were randomly assigned to receive impairment or activity focused treatments and presenting results, about which type of treatment seem to have the best effects. Well, I'm really excited for all of those talks.

Jerry: Absolutely, that's super exciting. All right, well Okay, you know that's right, we had a lot of proposals, this year, can you talk a little bit about the different formats and how we try to make them as interactive as possible.

Gayle: Yeah, absolutely so I mentioned a little bit already about the invited talks and the accepted talks so that will be one format. And they're also going to be Brag n’ Steals as is the tradition for the summit and those will all be synchronous live. And then we're also having just one poster session and we're going to be obviously virtual poster sessions are very different from live poster sessions. So, we are developing a format, where each poster will be in its own Zoom room and attendees can basically drop in on the different Zoom rooms that they're interested in and hear you know talk with. The author or authors about the contents of the poster they can have a run through like you would typically have and then our plan is also to make the poster overall the big poster accessible in a PDF format. For attendees so you can sort of get the big picture, but you can also go into the Zoom room and talk with the authors so we're trying to keep that interactivity that is so great about poster sessions and again like with Gathertown, with the added benefit of less background noise, which is something I always think of as a speech pathologist when I'm in a poster session, then we should loop all of our posters to.

Jerry: agree, no big poster hall with people shouting next you and so no vocal trauma or less trauma. And we're putting together some guidelines that will send out to people who are presenting posters, so that they have a clear idea of what that will look like and how to kind of maximize the way that they deliver that so yeah excellent okay.

So, it's sort of a tradition that Audrey Holland, at the end of the conference wraps things up provide some takeaways and a conclusion at the end of the summit that's still going to happen this year.

Gayle: It is and I'm very excited. Yes, I'm really excited to hear from Audrey I think it's always great to hear what she's taken away from the conference so I'm excited to hear that again.

Jerry: Excellent, and I assume we'll be having awards for the Audrey Holland award and the Innovator award and those types of things that will happen sometime during the conference as well.

Gayle: Yes, that will be happening Friday afternoon at the end of the day, on Friday and I'm actually also really excited to announce that we will be having a new award, which is for outstanding student presentation.

Jerry: Outstanding! I'm really excited about that, you know I love student learning so terrific well that's just sounds like a terrific opportunity to reengage with all of our life participation colleagues and hopefully, retain as much of that close knit reunion feel as we can. Anything else out there that we should know about, as we look forward to the summit?

Gayle: Just that I'm really excited for it, and I hope lots of people will register and will really take advantage of all the different ways to interact.

Jerry: Agreed. So excited for that and I’m sure we'll have a busy few weeks leading up to the summit so I will definitely see you again soon. Okay, well, thank you Gayle for joining us and really appreciate the conversation. 

Gayle: Thanks for having me.

Jerry:  Absolutely, on behalf of Aphasia Access we want to thank you for listening to this episode of the Aphasia Access Conversations Podcast. For more information on Aphasia Access and for access to our growing library of materials go to if you have an idea for a future podcast series or a topic email us at Thanks again for your ongoing support of Aphasia Access.