K. Vitásková, L. Šebková

Palacký University in Olomouc, Faculty of Education (CZECH REPUBLIC)
Voice represents a very important occupational tool in various professional fields. Nevertheless, some professional groups are at a higher risk of voice disturbances or difficulties which can result in minor or severe voice disorders. Such disorders or difficulties may very negatively influence not only professional development and job recruitment of the graduates, but even lead to a lower evaluation of their university preparation and future professional competence, especially in case of voice and oral speech quality demanding fields of study. We believe that speech and language therapy intervention provided by university teachers, and the awareness to individual voice difficulties in terms of self-perception and knowledge on the signs of possible voice and speech discomfort can have a positive effect. However, for this purpose we need more research data, especially those which are based on the comparison of the groups of students from different study fields and countries.

The aim of the research and the methodology:
We used two questionnaires, one of them standardized (Voice Handicap Index; VHI), and one originally created, for the evaluation of the students of educational study programs (including speech and language therapy students) and students of interpreting. The questionnaires were focused on the self-perception of individual voice utilization, and the knowledge on the voice disorders and the signs of voice and speech discomfort. In purpose of obtaining similar information on this subject, and regarding the international cooperation and teaching considering foreign students, we conducted the research in the Czech Republic (Palacký University in Olomouc) and Spain (University of Granada).

The results and discussion:
The results show some differences between the students of educational programs and of foreign language interpreting and also very interesting self-perception and knowledge on voice disorders and their symptomatology when comparing Czech and Spanish students. Based on the research analysis and qualitative discussion we contemplate some changes in evaluation strategies using in assessing this area, as some cultural and regional differences and different comprehension of used terms may influence the results. Some of the speech and voice characteristics are considered to be normal in one group of students, but in other group the same signs or symptoms of voice differences may be identified as a risk or even disorder. The data are important for future speech and language therapy graduates (representing professionals engaged in voice and speech intervention at universities), as well as for the university students of the different fields of study who will be future voice professionals.