Professional News

Collaborative $1.2 Million Grant to Fund Scholarships for Special Educators, Speech Pathologists

Students working on educational tools for kids.
Judith Page and Margaret Bausch are working with students to create an effective communication intervention program. Photo taken in 2019 and provided by the UK College of Education.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2021) — Faculty in the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences and UK College of Education are joining forces on an interdisciplinary project to prepare special educators and speech-language pathologists in creating an effective communication intervention program for students with severe disabilities.

The grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, will provide 32 scholars tuition support and the educational and practicum experiences necessary to become skilled in providing interdisciplinary, technology-enhanced interventions, in-person or via distance, to K-12 students with significant disabilities in public schools.

“This unique program will merge together students on varied educational paths whose common goals are focused on bettering the lives of students with disabilities,” said Judith Page, Ph.D., associate professor in the UK College of Health Sciences Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “The ability to communicate is essential for learning and for successful participation in life. Unfortunately, many students with severe disabilities enter and leave school with no effective means to communicate, making classroom participation difficult and putting them at risk for poor post-school outcomes. This project seeks to address this problem by helping speech-language pathologists and special educators learn new, creative ways to help these students develop effective communication skills.”

SPEAC-OUT: Making Communication Happen (Speech Pathologists and Educators Adopting Collaboration and Optimal Use of Technology) is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the Office of Special Education Programs.

“This is a unique interdisciplinary opportunity for individuals to earn their Teacher Leader master’s degree in special education or a master’s degree in speech-language pathology while working together to focus on serving individuals with severe disabilities who have complex communication needs,” said Melinda Ault, Ph.D., associate professor and director of Graduate Studies in the UK College of Education Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Counselor Education. “Project SPEAC-OUT also will focus on preparing professionals to deliver in-person services as well as distance education and telehealth services.”

Speech-language pathologists will participate in SPEAC-OUT as part of their master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders. They will receive application materials for SPEAC-OUT after application to the program.

Special educators will participate in SPEAC-OUT as part of the program for the Teacher Leader master’s degree in special education. Contact Ault at or call 859-257-7689 for more information.

This project is supported by the Office of Special Education Programs of U.S. Department of Education as part of an award totaling $1,155,402, award H325K210031 with 100% funded by OSEP.  

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.