Orange Alert

Champions of Hearing Health

CSD students and faculty team up with Special Olympics New York to provide athletes with hearing screenings.

May 13, 2024, by Dan Bernardi

Grace Laceby and Tessa O’Leary at Special Olympics event
Grace Laceby and Tessa O’Leary from CSD offer a hearing screening to a Special Olympics athlete.

Students from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) had the opportunity to use their expertise in the community during the Special Olympics Winter Games in Syracuse. Held each February, hundreds of athletes with intellectual disabilities from across New York State competed in the games. This year’s opening and closing ceremonies were held at the Oncenter in Downtown Syracuse.

CSD students and faculty joined other healthcare professionals to provide health and hearing screenings to participants. According to, people with intellectual disabilities often receive sub-standard care or virtually no health care at all, which is why free health screenings and education are made available to Special Olympics athletes at the games. The 11 CSD students and two faculty volunteers conducted hearing tests such as otoacoustic emissions, tympanometry and pure tone testing.

Group of people in pink shirts posing for a photo.

The CSD team at the Special Olympics in Syracuse.

Kristen Kennedy, assistant teaching professor in CSD and licensed audiologist, helped to organize their involvement. She says their team completed hearing screenings on more than 60 athletes throughout the day.

“It’s so important to engage in this work because healthcare disparities can be a major obstacle for people with intellectual differences,” says Kennedy. “We are so fortunate for our relationship with Special Olympics New York that has allowed us to participate in these events and we look forward to being a part of future games.”

Through this experience, Kennedy notes that students gained familiarity with screening procedures and working with a population of adults they may have less exposure to in their clinical education. After being tested, athletes were referred for further evaluations as needed based on the outcomes of the hearing screenings.

Kennedy says the department plans to participate in the Summer Games which will be held at Ithaca College in June.


Kristen Kennedy Assistant Teaching Professor

Media Contact

Dan Bernardi