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Healthy hearing program for Special Olympics

Ryan Mulligan provides a hearing screening

Illinois State University audiology doctoral student Ryan Mulligan provides a hearing screening on a Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games athlete.

Illinois State University Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) staff and students will participate in the Healthy Athletes program for Special Olympics. This program is offered to participants of the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games on the Illinois State University campus in June 2018. Eight disciplines participate in the Healthy Athletes program offered through Special Olympics International. These disciplines help athletes with intellectual disabilities obtain appropriate referrals and medical care.

Jen Ragusa, assistant director of clinical experience for audiology for the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, recently traveled to Austin, Texas for an event to train the trainers as part of this effort. She was one of seven other audiologist at the training. Ragusa will now train volunteers, network with other universities, and run the program here at Illinois State University.

The 50th anniversary celebration of Special Olympics will be held in Chicago in July. An inaugural and international Special Olympics unified soccer/football cup event will be held with a Global Day of Inclusion at this celebration. Ragusa is working to bring Healthy Hearing to those events. Undergraduate and graduate CSD students from Illinois State University will have an opportunity to serve individuals with intellectual disabilities from all over the world.

At the state and international games, volunteers will examine athlete’s ears via otoscopy and screen the hearing of the athletes using tympanometry, otoacoustic emissions, and pure tones. Volunteers will use results to determine referral needs. The opportunities and experiences with these athletes provide powerful clinical learning; staff and student volunteers are guaranteed to enjoy the experience because learning is paired with positive interactions among Special Olympic athletes, coaches, and other volunteers.

Contact Jen Ragusa if you would like more information or would like to volunteer for this community outreach event.

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