Project Highlight: University of Illinois Speech Language Pathology Clinic

When the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign decided to expand their Speech Language Pathology Clinic to a second location they wanted it to provide a state-of-the-art site that facilitated best practices in both education and speech-language therapy. For not only is the facility a functioning clinic, it is also a classroom laboratory. Members of the community are able to utilize the clinic for diagnosis and treatment of speech and language problems. Annually, roughly 200 adults and children receive support at the clinic.

The University turned to Thorburn Associates to design an audiovisual system for the treatment rooms and offices within the clinic. Individual and group therapy are provided mostly by graduate students, but instructors are able to monitor the sessions remotely and unobtrusively. TA was given the responsibility to develop a system of remote control cameras and boundary microphones that allow for review and storage of data, as necessary. This dual goal of effective education and treatment left the team with one important decision: IP or analog?

Initially, the department requested an IP or network-based video and microphone system. This configuration works much like a printer connected to a network, only in reverse. Whereas a printer receives data from the network and outputs it onto paper, the camera and microphone system collect data and input it into the network. Through research and testing it was discovered that the audio lagged the video stream by as much as four seconds. While the advantage of the IP network meant that the cameras could be monitored remotely, even by staff with offices in different buildings, the prospect of such a long delay was considered unacceptable as it would not allow the supervising clinician to properly monitor the student’s work with the client.

The solution was to utilize standard video cameras that could be controlled over the building network, but instead of routing data through the net, the signal was sent to a 16-channel digital video recorder (DVR). The unit selected is a proven and durable security system that allows for audio to be recorded for each channel. That means video and audio can be recorded simultaneously and are now synchronized for playback and monitoring. Additionally, the sessions are now archived and available for students to review their work. Instructors can also save segments to share with other students.

Patient privacy issues, such as those covered by HIPAA laws, are addressed by saving and replaying only small segments during training, so that there is not enough information available to identify a person. The system is set up to overwrite itself every four days.

The combination of real-time remotes to supervisors, and archived playback of sessions provides feedback to the students in a timely manner that achieves the school’s goal of effective education and treatment.