March 6, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
The South Carolina Speech-Language-Hearing Association (SCSHA) named Carol Page the recipient of the 2017 DiCarlo Award for Outstanding Clinical Achievement at the organization’s annual meeting in February. Page, who is the program director for the South Carolina Assistive Technology Program at USC’s School of Medicine, is also an adjunct faculty member in the Arnold School’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD).
The three-time UofSC alumna earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carolina before earning master’s (Master of Speech-Language Pathology) and doctoral (Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology) degrees from the COMD department. Reading about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan as a child had already inspired Page to pursue a career working with people with disabilities. Then, as an undergrad, she met a COMD student.
“He encouraged me to visit the program and talk to some of the professors,” says Page. “I did and knew that speech-language pathology was the career I wanted to pursue.”
After completing her graduate degrees, Page then joined the School of Medicine to serve as a speech-language pathologist in the Department of Pediatrics’ Center for Disability Resources. For the past 14 years, she has held various roles within the Center, working with the Carolina Autism Resource Evaluation Center and the ABC Special Needs Program, while working at the South Carolina Assistive Technology Program—which she has led as director since 2009.
As both a specialist and a leader in the field of augmentative and alternative communication and assistive technologies, Page has advanced the collaboration, education, access, and services for the entire state. Often unfamiliar to students and experienced speech-language pathologists alike, Page’s colleagues credit her with demystifying these emerging areas and facilitating professionals and patients’ use of the powerful tools they offer.
“Dr. Page has dedicated her career to advancing this unique branch of our field,” says Danielle Varnedoe, director of COMD’s USC Speech and Hearing Research Center. “Her years of expertise, advanced knowledge, passion and commitment, and extreme patience allow her to meet each one of us where we are in our walk and guide us on how to imbed literacy in augmentative communication, to step away from Picture Exchange Communication System, and to remember to ‘start where you want to end’ for each of our clients.”
In addition to numerous trainings, guest lectures, graduate-level courses in COMD, and other efforts to educate professionals and patients, Page has helped grow the annual S.C. Assistive Technology Expo to over 850 participants. “This is a day where many professions—nurses, social workers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, early interventionists, and speech-language pathologists—learn collaboratively not only what is current and best practice, but also from the augmentative communication devices and assistive technologies users themselves, what positive impact access to and use of these devices have in their lives and those of their loved ones,” says Michelle Dawson, a private practice Speech-Language Pathologist in Columbia. “Each individual walks away with inspiration and freshly garnered knowledge about how to immediately improve their practice to advance their respective patients and/or students towards independent and functional communication and/or improved access to their environment.”
In addition to bringing the field together through events, Page has also united its stakeholders in efforts to increase access to these tools and clinical support. “Dr. Page is the face of advocacy for augmentative communication devices and assistive technologies in the state of South Carolina,” says Varnedoe. “She has driven free access to communication devices through the SCATP loan program for our citizens from all walks of life and is a fiercely advocating spirit for raising awareness about universal access and how it positively impacts the citizens of South Carolina.”
And she’s not done yet. “I would like all speech-language pathologists working in the field of augmentative and alternative communication to use research-based best practices to meet the communication needs of individuals who are partially or completely nonverbal,” says Page of her hopes for the field. “One of the goals of the S.C. Assistive Technology Program is to continue to be a major catalyst in promoting the effective use of augmentative and alternative communication.”