SCSD Faculty Member Wins Editors’ Katharine G. Butler Trailblazer Award

Associate Professor Dr. Kelly Farquharson has been awarded the Editors’ Katharine G. Butler Trailblazer Award for her recent publication, co-authored by researchers Marie Ireland, Sharyanne McLeod, and Kathryn Crowe.

The publication, titled, “Evaluating Children in U.S. Public Schools With Speech Sound Disorders Considering Federal and State Laws, Guidance, and Research,” was recently published in the journal “Topics in Language Disorders.” The article was recognized for being trailblazing in nature, raising awareness about language as an aspect of communication that spans many age ranges, representing interdisciplinary communication, and being solid in technical aspects.

The idea for the article was developed during the 2018 ASHA Conference. During that same year, McLeod and Crowe published an article about speech sound normative data. “It was said to have ‘broken the SLP internet’, and at the ASHA Convention, there were a lot of side conversations about why that might be.” said Dr. Farquharson. The aim of Dr. Farquharson’s article was to ease some concerns brought forward by US-based speech language pathologists. “Through our conversations at the convention, we learned that part of the panic over the 2018 paper was that many US-based SLPs were afraid that the implications of that research meant that their caseloads would increase. Although that possibility was there, we knew that we needed to get clear information to those SLPs so that they felt better prepared to put this research into practice.”

Katharine G. Butler (1925-2019) was an educator, researcher, writer, and mentor. She made many significant contributions to the field of speech language pathology. “It’s humbling to receive this award, especially because it was created and named for a true Trailblazer in our field, Katharine G. Butler.  This acknowledgment of our work showcases the importance of international collaborations, but also the importance of context.” Said Dr. Farquharson. “In the US, school-based SLPs are facing huge obstacles with respect to service provision in light of large and unmanageable caseloads. SLPs want to implement research into practice, but sometimes it feels impossible given all they are asked to do. This article was an attempt to bridge a gap, and help those overworked clinicians understand how this research relates to their important work.”

Dr. Farquharson acknowledges that the article is largely translational in nature – that is, intended to produce results that are directly applicable to benefiting human health or solving a real-world problem. “Sometimes translational science, implementation science, and ecologically valid studies are viewed differently within the scope of other empirical research.  Translational science is so important to the future of our field, as it’s one way to have a dialogue with the clinicians on the front lines doing the challenging work of helping kids with speech and language impairments,” said Dr. Farquharson. She added, “My hope is that science at large continues to support and find value in translational science, as it’s crucial for the implementation of evidence-informed practices.”

To read the full publication, click here.