Rugby hero launches pioneering speech clinic

The speech clinic.
The speech clinic.
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Former Scotland and British and Irish Lions star Jason White has visited Queen Margaret University to officially open a pioneering new speech centre for children and young people.

White opened the new Wooden Spoon Speech Clinic, which will use ground-breaking technology to change the lives of youngsters with speech communication difficulties.

Wooden Spoon is the children’s charity of rugby and raises money to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people. Thanks to a significant amount of money donated by the Scottish arm of the charity, speech and language therapists can now offer specialist electropalatography (EPG) treatment to young people from up and down the country.

EPG is a computer-based speech and language therapy technique, developed by experts at Queen Margaret University, which shows the contact the tongue is making with the roof of the mouth during speech.

The technique is used to assess disordered speech and correct errors. This helps children with severe and persistent speech disorders to develop more accurate speech sound production.

White said: “It is great to be here and find out about EPG and the brilliant work the staff are doing.

“Wooden Spoon Scotland does a great job helping people from all sorts of different backgrounds and to hear some of the testimonials of youngsters they have helped previously was amazing.

“We are particularly proud to support the launch of the Wooden Spoon Speech Clinic, which has evolved from QMU’s internationally recognised research in speech and language sciences.”

EPG requires the speaker to wear an artificial palate that is custom-made to fit against the roof of the mouth. The palate has 62 electrodes that detect where the tongue is making contact with the roof of the mouth, because producing these short lasting patterns of contact correctly is a necessary aspect of intelligible speech.

Queen Margaret’s deputy principal Richard Butt said: “We are very grateful to Wooden Spoon for helping us invest in palates and the other technology that is needed for EPG. We know that improvement in speech communication can have a significant impact on people’s lives. As their speech becomes more easily understood, confidence can increase, they can integrate more in social and learning environments and their attainment can improve.