The Vermillion Rotary Club met for lunch this Tuesday in its usual venue, the Freedom Forum on the USD campus. President Roger Kozak presided this week, and opening prayer was led by Pastor Ed Nesselhuf. Songs were led by Joe Edelen with Jack Noble lending accompaniment on the piano. Announcements included a thank-you from the Vermillion Food Pantry for our help in raising funds and providing non-perishable food items. The Food Pantry, which provides help for needy families, conducted at very successful fund and food raising campaign this winter. It was also announced that Jack Richardson, administrator for the Freedom Forum program at USD has been appointed to the national board of directors for that organization, which includes responsibilities in several cities in the United States. Congratulations Jack!
Our program was given by Dr. Elizabeth Hanson, assistant professor in the department of communication disorders at USD. Ms. Hanson described a cooperative venture with SESDAC, an organization that works with local service providers to help people with various disabilities to live, work and socialize in the community. SESDAC serves 75 people in our area with various developmental disabilities. Ms. Hanson, a South Dakota native, received her doctorate in speech therapy at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
The cooperative venture between Sesdac and USD in this area is called AAC, which stands for "Augmentation and Alternative Communication," which is designed to help people who cannot communicate in the normal way with speech or writing. This, of course, would include folks who are profoundly deaf, and have never learned to speak. The USD portion of the program enables students, both graduate and undergraduate, to have hands on training and experience with folks who are temporarily or permanently speech disabled. Degrees are given in audiology and communication therapy that sets goals of increasing the client's ability to function by communication with the world around them. The cooperative program has been put together over the past several years, beginning in 2005, and is now almost fully functional with a number of students enrolled.
Our meeting was closed with the traditional singing of the first stanza of My Country T'is of Thee.