The Communication Collaborative (COMMCO-LAB) enables students at Memorial University to participate in solidarity research with communities and organizations throughout the province. We use digital media (e.g. podcasting and short documentary film) to inquire and engage and promote cross-disciplinary research at Memorial University.
Our current collaboration is with The Newfoundland and Labrador Stuttering Association, people who stutter (PWS), members of provincial government, members of the public, educators, speech-language pathologists, academic researchers, university students, mental health professionals, and disability advocates. Collaborators & stakeholders with COMMCO-LAB:
-learn about stuttering research and how it could be used for NLSA advocacy implement ways to leverage support from public and private agencies -participate in research (e.g. to study / recognize deficits in the province’s programs and services for PWS) -provide learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students attending Memorial, and MUN alumni (e.g. speech-language pathology students who are attending graduate schools out of province).
COMMCO-LAB’s work with the NLSA seeks to better understand sociolinguistic issues in the practice of speech-language pathology, particularly as it relates to people who stutter and the treatment of stuttering under a medical model. This is done through the production of the weekly podcast, Some Stutter, Luh! , a research survey on Accessibility of Services in NL, The Science of Stuttering: an open educational resource, and A Short Film About Discommunication.
Together, we are listening to people who stutter in the province – and beyond. Our hope is that by sharing their stories, thoughts and values, we will understand how disciplines in the social sciences – like sociolinguistics but others too – can dispel the myths, stereotypes and barriers that accompany people who communicate differently throughout their lives.
The COMMCO-LAB was initiated in the summer of 2020 and is ongoing. It started through funding from Memorial’s Undergraduate Student Summer Internship Program for the following project:
Promoting undergraduate research through collaborative documentary media: a sociolinguistic study of the perception of stuttering (in co-operation with the Newfoundland Stuttering Association).
Our goal was to provide an undergraduate student with a supervised, scholarly research experience and to promote scholarly research among Memorial’s undergraduate student body.
The project established a research partnership between the Newfoundland and Labrador Stuttering Association (NLSA) and the Linguistics Department to better understand public perceptions of stuttering and persons who stutter (PWS) and to inform the mandates and goals of the NLSA.
Accordingly, we set two goals: first, to investigate public attitudes towards stuttering through the use of survey methodology and one-on-one interviews. Our findings have been used to target specific misconceptions and stereotypes that have negative impacts on PWS.
As a public-outreach project, our second goal is to communicate our research findings by producing educational, knowledge-mobilizing documentary media in order to encourage stuttering acceptance, help combat harmful stereotypes against PWS and help the NLSA provide informed support to PWS. Beyond increasing public knowledge about stuttering, we anticipate that our knowledge-based media can play a crucial role in empowering and instilling a sense of self-worth among PWS.
We further hope this project will help challenge and mitigate public stigma towards PWS by encouraging stuttering acceptance through public education.
It resulted in a number of activities. First, with members of the NLSA, we produced the short documentary [Getting the Words Out], which aimed to raise public-awareness around stuttering by sharing personal experiences of people who stutter. It was nominated for best student short documentary film at the Silver Wave Film Festival.
Building on the success of Getting the Words Out, stakeholders formed the Communication Collaborative, to look at the social dimensions of stuttering and communication disorders.
We are currently recruiting participants for a survey to assess accessibility to services for people who student in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In addition to this, our collaborative is working on a documentary pilot called “Finding the Right Therapy will Change your Life!”
The COLLABORATIVE also produces the weekly Some Stutter, Luh!, Newfoundland and Labrador’s first podcast about stuttering. If you are a student and would like to get involved with the podcast, please send me an email.
In 2021 we received funding from Atlantic OER to create a course module called “The Science of Stuttering”.