RMU students from the University’s Center for Communication Disorders (CCD) gathered at the Utah State Capitol this spring to attend the Transgender Day of Visibility Rally and March advocating for transgender rights. These students, who work with the gender-affirming voice group, wanted to show their support for their transgender clients who are impacted by the effects of recent legislation.
“Utah has one of the highest rates of suicide among the LGBTQ+ population. Persons who identify as transgender may be further stigmatized by the way their voice sounds because it does not represent them effectively,” says CCD Director of Clinical Education, Wendy Chase, MA, CCC-SLP. “Voice and communication treatment can assist a client in presenting themselves authentically, having a direct impact on their mental health.”
Offering free services allows the CCD to support a marginalized population by providing them with access to voice and resonance services as well as transgender and gender non-conforming services.
What is Voice & Resonance?
Vocal folds produce vibration that our throat and mouth turn into speech sounds. Each person’s voice is unique, but may not sound the way that person would like. Experts work with patients to help them improve their voice.
At an initial voice and resonance appointment, clinicians conduct an evaluation that consists of listening to one’s voice, understanding speaking habits, and taking measurements of voice characteristics. Following an initial assessment, experts perform a complete videostroboscopy, where they record vocal folds as one speaks. This helps to assess pitch, levels of loudness, and voice variation.
Following the assessment, a treatment program is developed using methods such as biofeedback, laryngeal manipulation, and at-home exercises. The types of things voice & resonance patients work on include pitch, resonance, and intonation.
Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Services
The CCD provides support for voice and communication differences as well as disorders. They provide therapy for individuals who are working to match their speaking voice and communication style to their gender presentation.
In addition to providing voice and resonance, transgender and gender non-conforming services, the CCD also assists clients (patients) with feeding & swallowing, hearing, language, augmentative & alternative communication, social communication, speech, fluency disorders, and cognitive communication. Supported by the RMUFoundation, the CCD clinic staff is comprised of licensed clinicians and students from RMU’s Master of Medical Speech-Language Pathology (MS MedSLP) program
For more information on the Center for Communication Disorders, visit the clinic’s website.