Sally Brandt listens to what people say. That's her job.
Brandt, a 19-year resident of Lawrence, is a speech-language pathologist and adjunct associate professor at the Kansas University Medical Center. She has devoted most of her adult life to assisting with the rehabilitation of people with speech and hearing impairments.
"Almost everyone in speech gets involved as a result of a personal experience," Brandt said.
Brandt's experience occurred as a senior in high school. As part of a class assignment, she observed an elementary school speech instructor teaching children with speech and hearing problems.
"After watching what went on, I knew I loved it," Brandt explained. "I was fascinated with the process of helping them to speak."
Following this experience, she began studying various areas of speech and hearing. An introductory course in speech pathology sealed Brandt's fate and she eventually received a bachelor's degree, master's degree and doctorate in speech pathology.
ENTERING the speech pathology field is not a common route, said Brandt, and her area of specialization is even more uncommon.
"Almost nobody says, `this is what I want to do when I grow up,'" she said. "Of those who come into this field, most want to work with kids."
Brandt works almost solely with adults. She said most of the adults she treats had good communication systems, but because of an accident or other circumstance, they lost their communication ability.
"My focus has been to improve the quality of life for adults with speech problems," Brandt said.
In the mid-1970s, Brandt joined the Kansas Speech-Language-Hearing Assn. At a KSLHA convention held in Wichita Oct. 11-13, Brandt, president of the organization, received an award for her work to promote licensure in Kansas.
"It really was a nice surprise," she said. "I'm on the executive board that presented me with the award, and somehow they managed to do all this without my knowing about it."
BRANDT EXPLAINED that licensure, the state licensing of speech-language pathologists and audiologists in the state, is a primary concern of KSLHA. She said that licensure is necessary to protect consumers from unqualified practitioners, and she will testify during the next legislative session to ensure the issue is addressed.
Working with speech runs in the family. Brandt's husband of 27 years, John, is a speech, language and hearing professor at KU. Sally Brandt plans to continue her work and play an important role in the advancement of education and technology for speech problems.
"I want to make meaningful the results that medical science has given us," Brandt said. "There's still a lot of room for research and we have a long way to go."