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Aphasia chorus performs to raise awareness, support for campus treatment program


Karen Fremont directs a group rehearsal. (Photo: Nori Kamada Simpson)

  • May 19, 2012

The Aphasia Tones©, a Cal State East Bay chorus comprised of persons learning to live fully with aphasia, performed June 6 to raise awareness about aphasia and raise funds to support the campus Aphasia Treatment Program.

Aphasia, a communication disorder that most commonly occurs after a stroke, affects talking, understanding, reading, and writing. Nearly two million Americans are living with aphasia. 

The CSUEB Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders is home to a regionally and nationally recognized Aphasia Treatment Program (ATP), founded in 1996 by Jan Avent, CSUEB professor emeritus. Keeping with a legacy of innovation in ATP, current program director Ellen Bernstein-Ellis developed the Aphasia Tones© in 2009. 

“Access to the performing arts can be very limited following a stroke," Bernstein-Ellis said. "The Aphasia Tones© allows individuals to derive the therapeutic and social benefits of singing in a group. They are empowered by being part of a community that shares common goals.” 

“Choir members with aphasia thrive, raise awareness about aphasia, and inspire audiences with their joyous voices,” said Nidhi Mahendra, associate professor of CSD.

Directed by graduate student clinicians Karen Fremont and Jacqui Standel, the 20-plus member Aphasia Tones©’ recent performance at the plenary session of the 2012 convention of the California Speech Language Hearing Association in San Jose brought the audience to its feet.

The CSUEB performance began with a piano piece and introduction by Kathleen Rountree; dean of CSUEB's College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences. That was followed by several songs by the Aphasia Tones©, the presentation of a proclamation by the City of Hayward in recognition of Aphasia Awareness Month, and a video greeting from the ATP to the National Aphasia Association in honor of its 25th anniversary.

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