American Speech-Language-Hearing Association bestows highest honor on Shapiro

David Shapiro

David A. Shapiro, the Robert Lee Madison Distinguished Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Western Carolina University, is among this year’s recipients of the most prestigious honor bestowed by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

The Honors of the Association distinction recognizes members of ASHA for their distinguished contributions to the discipline of communication sciences and disorders. Shapiro and eight other members were honored during the organization’s 2017 conference held Nov. 9-11 in Los Angeles.

“This is a very select honor, and it is a wonderful recognition for him and for our program at Western Carolina University,” said Bill Ogletree, head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “It is reserved to recognize those individuals whose contributions have been of such excellence that they have enhanced or altered the course of the professions. That certainly characterizes the work of David Shapiro.”

ASHA is the national professional, scientific and credentialing association for 191,500 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students.

The Honors of the Association “is public recognition of your distinguished and clearly exceptional contributions to the field of speech, language and hearing over the course of your career,” Gail J. Richard, ASHA president, said in notifying Shapiro of the award. “Your career accomplishments are most worthy of this distinction.”

The ASHA award is the latest in a long list of accolades for Shapiro, who last year received the University of North Carolina Board of Governors’ Oliver Max Gardner Award, the highest award the board presents to faculty of the 17-campus system, recognizing “the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.” Earlier this year, he received the Honors of the North Carolina Speech, Hearing and Language Association.

Shapiro called the ASHA award a dream beyond his imagination. “Throughout my life and my work, and with the support of many, I hope I have been successful in bringing honor and pride to my professional community, to people with fluency disorders worldwide and to my family. Honestly, this honor is not about me. It is about who we are. This honor is a mirror. In it, we see all of us who are breaking the chains of silence and bringing the precious gift of communication to so many. There is no greater honor than doing what we do,” he said.

“Stuttering is significant to me, personally and professionally. The true meaning emerges when the message of stuttering, or any communication disorder, becomes a medium for a larger message, that of harnessing and realizing the most positive human potential,” Shapiro said. “Until I have no more breath, I will always do my best to give a voice to those who are silent. I dream that our quest for communication freedom unites us in greater understanding, a more harmonious existence and a more peaceful world.”

Shapiro, a speech-language pathologist and board-certified specialist in fluency and fluency disorders, has given the gift of unimpeded communication to thousands of people who stutter by helping them achieve fluency of speech. His work has taken him to six continents for research and service delivery, and he has been honored for his efforts by state, national and international associations. During his tenure as president of the International Fluency Association, he expanded the group’s membership from just the U.S. and United Kingdom to countries around the globe.

Shapiro launched international advocacy efforts similar to Doctors Without Borders to assist people with fluency disorders in developed and developing nations, including countries where reaction to stuttering may lead to discrimination, injury – even death. Through his international outreach, he has positively affected the lives of people who stutter in more than 30 countries.

As an educator in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders since 1984, Shapiro has taught and mentored hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom have gone on to successful careers as clinicians and scholars using his techniques. He was appointed WCU’s Robert Lee Madison Distinguished Professor in 2008. The author of “Stuttering Intervention: A Collaborative Journey to Fluency Freedom,” Shapiro has written or co-authored more than 100 academic papers and articles in seven languages. He has been awarded approximately $1 million in grant funding over his career and has given numerous lectures and presentations across the globe.

Shapiro served as president of the International Fluency Association from 2012 to 2015. Among his other notable recognitions and awards for his teaching and service are WCU’s University Scholar Award, the UNC Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Clinical Achievement Award from the North Carolina Speech, Hearing and Language Association. He has been elected a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and served as president of the Council of Supervisors in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. He also received a research fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and was honored with the Award of Distinction for Outstanding Clinician from the International Fluency Association.