Dear Blank Center Community,

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the Blank Center. Our team is comprised of culturally and linguistically diverse expert clinicians and researchers who do and do not stutter, who are dedicated to giving of their lives to positively impact the stuttering community worldwide. We are grateful for what we have and what we continue to learn from the insight, reflection, and resilience of the children, teens, adults, and families we have had the privilege to guide through our clinical programming. The impact of their collective wisdom on the evolution of our philosophy to research, training, treatment is beyond measure.

I had my first opportunity to provide stuttering treatment over 30 years ago when I was an undergraduate student, and it is an experience that continues to drive me to this day. I made a young man practice speaking without stuttering, and when he tried as hard as he could, but still stuttered, I encouraged him to try harder. And, when he tried harder, but still could not speak without stuttering, I advised him to come back to therapy when he was ready to do the hard work needed to be fluent. Although I recognize that I cannot go back in time, I have never been able to let go of the feeling that I failed this young man, and that I had hurt rather than helped him. This experience set my life on a course to explore the stigmatization of stuttering as well the impact of fluency conformity, and the contradiction of trying to instill in someone that it is ok to stutter, while simultaneously, engaging them in fluency-centered treatments.

For the last two decades, we have been working to develop an approach to stuttering that shifts from targeting society’s traditional definition of ‘fluency’ to an approach that targets communication, advocacy, resiliency, and education (CARE). Our CARE Model rests on a foundation of ‘Dream, Speak, Live,’ with the evidence-based understanding that when you understand that communication is not and never should be defined or limited by fluency, you have the freedom to pursue your dreams, the courage to speak from your heart, and the determination to live your life the fullest. Every day we are continuing to learn, and we continue to test, revise, and refine our CARE Model. With every step forward we make, above all, we have the children, teens, adults, and families we work with worldwide to thank.

Amplifying the voices of those we serve, letting them be the guiding presence in how we treat, what we teach, and what we explore, paved the way for the establishment of the Dr. Jennifer and Emanuel Bodner Developmental Stuttering Laboratory, the Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute, and the Dealey Family Foundation Stuttering Clinic – the three branches of the Blank Center. We are forever indebted to those who supported us at the beginning of our journey many years ago, and those who continue to support our mission, and help make everything we do possible.

Thank you to our participants of all ages and their loved ones who have entrusted us with their journeys, our students who work alongside us to make new discoveries, we continue to be inspired by and learn from you. Together, we will change the world.

Dream. Speak. Live.,
Courtney T. Byrd, PhD, CCC-SLP

Dale and Tina Holder Endowed Chair in Stuttering Leadership

Founding and Executive Director
Arthur M. Blank Center for Stuttering Education & Research

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