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The International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics – 27th World Congress (2007)

Danish Technological University, Lundtoft, Copenhagen, Denmark


Report by Sara Harris

The Congress is held every three years. It is primarily aimed at Phoniatricians (a European medical specialty dealing with disorders of communication) and Logopeds (the European equivalent of Speech/Language Therapists). Delegates came from all over the world to hear and discuss the latest research in the field of communication disorders.

Workshop topics included:

  • Belting – Dorte Hyldstrup
  • Exploring and nurturing the Versatile Voice and Voice Therapy: tools and tips – Helga Westmark
  • Jazz and EVTS – Helga Westmark and Dorte Hyldstrup
  • The use of Polyphonic and World music in practicing Figures and Voice Qualities – Helen Rowson
  • Brain Gym's effect on Figure Control – Juliette Caton

The Congress ranged over a wide choice of topics. The papers were grouped together in two and a half hour time blocks for each topic. Topic areas included: aphasia, audiology, augmentative and alternative communication, child language, craniofacial abnormalities, degenerative diseases, dysphagia, education for speech/language therapists, evidence based practice, fluency disorders, head and neck cancer, literacy, motor speech disorders, multilingualism, neurogenic disorders, phoniatrics, terminology in communication sciences and disorders and voice. The working day began at 8.30 and finished at 5pm. Rather a tall order considering most people were in hotels in Copenhagen with at least a half hour journey by train followed by coach to Lundtoft, which was around 10 miles out of the city centre.

The first three days began with a "Main Report". This was a two hour session which involved an in depth presentation, followed by discussion lead by other experts in the field. The three main reports were "molecular windows into speech and language disorders", "degenerative dysarthrias: a window into critical clinical and research issues", and "evidence based practice". Coffee and tea breaks (half an hour) and the lunch break (two hours) allowed plenty of time to network, greet old friends, visit the equipment/book/ product exhibition or attend the poster display of research papers. There was also plenty of time for questions and debate following the presentations.

The voice programme was a mixture of free papers and themed talks by eminent practitioners in the field. The free paper sessions usually lasted two hours and included six 15 minute research presentations. As always with this format the topic of interest and quality was variable, but mostly of a good standard. The themed talks tackled topics, such as "outcome measures" with each speaker addressing the delegates for 30 minutes on their experiences and view of the topic. Some of the titles, for example, "outcome measures in voice: what are we doing and why?", Instrumental outcome measures: promises and disappointments", "what outcome measures are acceptable? Do we need to be perfectionists or rather skip it all?" suggest that speakers were likely to put forward controversial views that frequently challenged the usual accepted views. In the case of the instrumental outcome measures mentioned above it appears that they are often neither reliable nor valid, nor do the analyses they provide agree with those of other leading manufacturers in the field.

Running concurrently with the Congress was the 3rd Estill World Voice Symposium. The Estill Voice Training Systems (EVTS) has been born out of the work of singing teacher Jo Estill, whose research into voice led her to weave together a series of vocal exercises designed to teach the voice user, whether singer or speaker, voluntary control over individual aspects of voice production. The system addresses such things as control of vocal fold closure, mass, phonation onset, false vocal fold behaviour, laryngeal elevation/lowering and palatal control. It is an innovation in that it not only provides a means of learning to control these structures, but can also suggest some "recipes" to establish different voice qualities, for example "sob", "opera" or "twang". The Estill System has been found to be equally effective in the treatment of voice disorders and has been widely adopted by speech and language therapists. The terminology of the system provides common ground for discussion between professionals working in the field.

Approximately 45 people attended the EVTS symposium. They were mostly singing teachers, voice teachers and Speech/Language Therapist. The programme included up-dates and changes in the EVTS International systems and products, practical workshops and lectures. For example, Matthew Reeve talked us through "Voice Quality theory and application – a brief history of phonation" which provided a good overview of phonation, articulation and vocal tract function from the phonetic view point and Mary McDonald talked about "Rehabilitating the Injured Voice". Tom and I contributed a talk on functional laryngeal anatomy, relating some of the Estill observations to anatomy and physiology and the muscle groups available.

The IALP Congress was of a high standard on the whole but most likely to appeal to Speech/Language Therapists working across a number of fields additional to voice. The inclusion of the EVTS programme as a satellite however, made it an interdisciplinary event that it would not otherwise have been. Since attendance at EVTS allowed Singing and Voice Teacher delegates access to the IALP programme they had the chance to explore other contributions to the field and also to meet and share their expertise with the IALP delegates.



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