Grant to Benefit Parkinson's Patients

May 04, 2020

Cal U's free Speech and Hearing Clinic will become a provider of SPEAK OUT!® & The LOUD Crowd® training.

april wright

Cal U’s free Speech and Hearing Clinic has been awarded a grant from the Parkinson Voice Project to develop SPEAK OUT!® & The LOUD Crowd® therapy programs.

The programs combine education, individual speech therapy and ongoing group sessions to help people with Parkinson’s disease improve their speech and voice.

SPEAK OUT!® & The LOUD Crowd® training will be provided to graduate students in Cal U’s communication disorders program. The University will become a certified provider of those therapies at the Speech and Hearing Clinic, located in Morgan Hall. 

As Parkinson’s disease progresses, speaking and swallowing can become affected. SPEAK OUT!® strengthens muscles used for speaking and swallowing and emphasizes ways to convert speech from an automatic function to an intentional act. The LOUD Crowd®  provides group support as patients practice the speech exercises. 

April Wright supervises Cal U’s Speech and Hearing Clinic. She is certified in SPEAK OUT!® & The LOUD Crowd® therapies. As part of the grant, assistant professor Nancy Carlino also will pursue certification. Funds also will be provided for equipment. 

“The greatest part about the grant is that Cal U students can take this training for free,” Wright said. “This is huge. So many of them who have worked with Parkinson’s patients in the clinic decide they love working with this population. This training will expand their knowledge of effective therapies.” 

Wright also works at the Cahouet Center for Comprehensive Parkinson’s Care at Jefferson Hospital, part of the Allegheny Health Network. 

“My goal has been to serve more Parkinson’s patients at our free clinic, and this grant is the next step in that process,” Wright said. “My plan is to reach out via the Parkinson Foundation Western PA and other avenues to let them know that Cal U is now a provider and that our services are free.” 

Cal U’s Speech and Hearing Clinic provides a full range of free screening, diagnostic and therapeutic services to children and adults with communication difficulties. Tele-therapy appointments will be available this summer to continue to serve the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We may see an increase of patients with mobility issues who can use tele-therapy for SPEAK OUT!® and LOUD Crowd®,” Wright said.

For more information about Cal U’s free Speech and Hearing Clinic, visit