David A. Shapiro, the Robert Lee Madison Distinguished Professor of communication sciences and disorders at Western Carolina University, has been elected president of the International Fluency Association. The announcement was made in Tours, France, at IFA’s seventh World Congress on Fluency Disorders, which was held in July.
The organization is committed to understanding and managing fluency disorders such as stuttering and improving the quality of life for people who have fluency disorders. Members include researchers, speech scientists and speech-language pathologists from more than 30 countries on six continents.
“IFA is an assembly of people from diverse countries with diverse ideas, cultures and customs,” said Shapiro, a professor at WCU for 28 years and a speech-language pathologist for 35. “Some people say that differences divide. However, IFA is living proof that when we focus on a common interest and are willing to learn and grow together, there is nothing that we cannot achieve together.”
As president, Shapiro will guide the organization in development of a strategic plan to coordinate research and clinical service across the continents. Members, past members and prospective members from both the professional and consumer communities will be invited to participate in a survey to share how IFA could better serve their needs and interests.
Depending on the response and what is included in the strategic plan, the association may expand how members share their scholarship and clinical experience beyond publication in the Journal of Fluency Disorders and attendance at World Congress events every three years.
Shapiro also suggested IFA may explore more collaborative efforts with organizations such as the International Stuttering Association and International Cluttering Association, which represent specific fluency disorders, in addition to self-help organizations within individual countries.
Also, the organization is revising its website to include more updates and information, such as newsletters from different countries, and offer a place for practitioners and consumers to submit suggestions and reactions.
Shapiro, who has personal experience with stuttering, has become internationally renowned for his work in communication sciences and disorders and has engaged in teaching, clinical service and research across North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa.
“To serve as IFA president is a dream come true for me,” said Shapiro. “I swore an oath that if I could find a way to talk, I would do all I can to help others. This position enables me to contribute on a broader scale and to coordinate such efforts internationally. I will do all I can to bring pride and honor to IFA, to the USA, to people with fluency disorders and speech-language pathologists, to Western Carolina University and to my own family.”
Shapiro is the author of “Stuttering Intervention: A Collaborative Journey to Fluency Freedom,” which is now in its second edition and continues to be widely received internationally. He has 65 published works in six languages and has made more than 150 professional presentations, including “A Multinational Investigation of Stuttering Intervention,” which represented the collaborative work of 17 co-authors from 15 countries.
“In 2004, concerned with the unavailability of clinical services for people who stutter in developing countries, I introduced with Peggy Walhaus in Australia a concept to the International Stuttering Association that has become the International Speech Project – Stuttering,” said Shapiro. “Similar to Doctors Without Borders, it is now bringing information and coordinating self-help/mutual aid projects where they otherwise did not exist in remote corners of the world.”
Shapiro’s current research into stuttering intervention is expanding to Eastern European countries and to the assumptions and practices of indigenous healers.
For more information, visit theifa.org online or contact Shapiro at 828-227-3291 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Teresa Killian Tate