IN MEMORIAM: Lyle L. Lloyd

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Lyle L. Lloyd, Ph.D., CCC-A/SLP

Fellow, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Honors of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

He wasn’t a member of the Corps of Volunteers for Northwest Discovery led by Lewis and Clark in the early 1800s. He wasn’t a crew member on Apollo 11 as Neil Armstrong uttered those famous words “…one giant leap for mankind.” He never explored the depths of the world’s oceans aboard Jacques Cousteau’s Calypso. However, it cannot be denied that Lyle L. Lloyd was a pioneer. In fact, some would argue he was the father of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) although he wasn’t alone in establishing the field. On February 12, 2020, the AAC community lost one of its founders. He lived a good, long life having passed on at age 85. He made every minute of his adult life meaningful with a singularity of purpose—to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities.

Lyle’s story is far too consequential to be summed up in a couple of paragraphs. To truly appreciate Lyle’s life’s work—his education, early career, involvement in the creation of AAC, contributions to training the next generations of practitioners and scientists, and his never-ending love and devotion to and advocacy for persons who require AAC to communicate to their fullest potential—one must understand the significance of the contributions he made to the field of AAC specifically, and to the fields of special education and speech-language pathology peripherally as a result of his pioneering work in AAC.  He was a Titan of titans.

Relatively little is known about Lyle’s childhood or his life growing up. He tended to keep his early years to himself, even to those closest to him. Despite this, one gets the impression Lyle had a drive for excellence that started early in his life. He wanted to make a difference in the world and he was going to find a way to do it.

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His early years aside, the story of Lyle’s career began during his years as a student in higher education. He earned the Bachelor of Science degree in speech-language pathology and physical education at Eastern Illinois University in 1956 at age 22. A second major in physical education may seem strange to some, but one thing few people knew about Lyle was the fact he was on the football team at Eastern Illinois. Three years later, Lyle earned the Master of Arts degree in hearing and speech disorders with a minor in special education at the University of Illinois. He became dually certified in audiology and speech-language pathology and practiced both professions. His early career included service as a public school speech-language pathologist in Moweaqua, Illinois (1959-62); an instructor in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at the University of Iowa (1959-62); an audiologist at the Constance Brown Hearing and Speech Center and an audiology instructor in the speech clinic at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo (1962-64); and a research associate at the Bureau of Child Research, University of Kansas and director of audiology in the Speech and Hearing Department at Parsons State Hospital and Training Center (1964-66). It was during these later years Lyle engaged in doctoral study at the University of Iowa. In 1965, he earned the Ph.D. degree in audiology and speech pathology with emphasis on intellectual disability. As it shall be reinforced later in this memoriam, the seeds appeared to be firmly planted for a career involving persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities while he was in college earning his master’s and doctoral degrees.

Upon conferral of the doctoral degree, Lyle was hired as an associate professor and chair of the Department of Audiology and Speech at Gallaudet College in Washington, DC (1966-69). From there, Lyle accepted the position of health science administrator for communication disorders, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, an office within the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He held that position from 1969 until 1977.

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Having a background in audiology, special education and speech-language pathology focused on persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as a penchant for procuring federal grants, Lyle was primed for what was to be his most significant contribution to the field of disability rehabilitation. In 1977 he was asked to join the faculty of Purdue University, initially as an associate professor in Audiology and Speech Sciences (now known as Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences). In the early 1980s Lyle was tasked with building a special education program in the Purdue School of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education (HSSE), and served as its director. The Special Education program became part of the Department of Educational Studies and HSSE became the College of Education.  From there Lyle held a dual appointment as full professor in special education; and speech, language, and hearing sciences until his retirement in 2011. In recognition of his exemplary grant writing record, Lyle was appointed assistant director of Sponsored Programs Services within Purdue’s Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships (1988-97). Upon retirement from Purdue in 2011, Lyle served as an adjunct professor of special education at Indiana University (2011-17).

It was during his early years at Purdue when what first had been called “nonspeech communication” evolved into AAC. It should be noted however, that even before nonspeech communication began to coalesce into a unified discipline Lyle was already engaging in activities that one day would be considered pioneering work in nonspeech communication. Perhaps the most notable of these was the publication of two seminal books that to some degree paved the way for nonspeech communication and eventually AAC: (1) Audiometry for the Retarded:  With Implications for the Difficult-to-Test (with R. T. Fulton, 1969) and (2) Communication Assessment and Intervention Strategies (1976). Lyle was a visionary. He understood the early history of what eventually would become AAC, he perceived where rehabilitation for persons with disabilities was headed, and because of his knowledge and affable nature he developed long-term relationships with many of the earliest academicians and practitioners in rehabilitation for persons with disabilities. As nonspeech communication evolved and developed into a formal discipline, Lyle was there providing his insights and ideas.

Lyle and Macalyne Fristoe developed the first university course in AAC soon upon their arrival at Purdue University in the fall of 1977. Lyle was clearly one of a small number of people who rose to the forefront of the development of AAC as its own discipline. He began to procure professional preparation grants for special education and speech-language pathology doctoral study in AAC. In addition to these federal grants, Lyle assisted doctoral students in procuring competitive internal grants to fund their dissertation research. Two of Lyle’s earliest doctoral students of note are Carol Goossens’, a master practitioner in AAC, and Judith Page, former chair of the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) and former president of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

The watershed years for AAC were 1982-83. At the Second International Conference on Nonspeech Communication in 1982, an ad hoc committee, the Organization Action Committee, was formed to investigate the need to develop nonspeech communication as an independent discipline. In 1983, the committee suggested the founding of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC). Lyle was a member of that committee and as a result became one of the founding members of ISAAC and one of its charter members of the Board of Directors (1983-86). The formal, interdisciplinary field of AAC was born. Within two years of ISAAC’s founding, the society established the first international, interdisciplinary journal devoted entirely to AAC, Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Lyle served as the journal’s editor from 1986 until 1993. During his tenure as editor, Lyle established the AAC Editorial Awards which continue to this day.

Throughout the 1980s Purdue’s program in AAC was rivaled only by the program at the University of Nebraska under David Beukelman. David and Lyle developed a wonderful collegial but competitive relationship that drove each other to greater heights in the development of the AAC movement, especially in terms of its research base and scholarly body of knowledge. Lyle’s productivity at Purdue was beyond impressive. Most of his scholarly work in AAC was conducted and published with doctoral (and in some cases, master’s) students. This was a conscious effort on his part as he wanted to develop the next generation of researchers to continue building the knowledge base of the field. Lyle’s research and scholarly activity during his time at Purdue included 99 peer-reviewed journal articles in 29 of the most prestigious national and international journals in audiology, AAC, psycholinguistics, rehabilitation, special education, and speech-language pathology; 28 conference abstracts, proceedings or reports; 25 book chapters or updated editions of chapters; and 17 books or newer editions of books. One book particularly was directly related to AAC. Lyle was senior editor (with Donald R. Fuller and Helen H. Arvidson as junior editors) of the textbook Augmentative and Alternative Communication: A Handbook of Principles and Practices (1997). Three weeks before his passing he and Fuller submitted a complete manuscript for what may likely be the most comprehensive textbook in AAC ever to be published. With an estimated publication date of November or December 2020, this book will be Lyle’s final contribution to the field he loved so much.

In addition to his publications, Lyle gave over 100 oral and poster presentations at the national level at numerous conferences and conventions such as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; Council for Exceptional Children; and the Clinical AAC Research Conference. In addition to his national presentations, Lyle made over 75 presentations at international conferences such as the Biennial Conference of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication; Congress of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability; and Congress of the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics.

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Lyle’s presentations didn’t stop at just international and national professional meetings. His expertise and knowledge were sought by both American and foreign universities. For example, in the United States he provided invited lectures at Hofstra University, Howard University, Oklahoma State University, Syracuse University, University of Alabama, University of New Mexico, University of Notre Dame and University of Vermont. Internationally, Lyle was invited to give presentations at institutions of higher education and other facilities in Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and Wales. Most noteworthy was the relationship Lyle had with the Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (CAAC) at the University of Pretoria (South Africa). Not only did Lyle travel there many times to give lectures, but he was invited to serve as an external member for approximately 15 doctoral dissertation committees. His strong collaborative relationship with this institution culminated in Lyle being conferred an honorary doctorate in 2006.

As alluded to above, Lyle was a prolific grant writer. While on faculty at Purdue University, Lyle had 39 research and scholarly activity grants funded from such agencies as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Office of Special Education Programs and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. In addition, he successfully wrote 19 external personnel preparation grants and ten internal grants to support the research of his doctoral students. He was awarded four international travel grants and one grant through the South African Human Sciences Council.

Lyle’s service contributions are far too numerous to list, so only positions of leadership and activities of considerable significance are mentioned here: (1) Founding Member of SIG #12: AAC of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; (2) President of the District of Columbia Speech and Hearing Association; (3) Governor, President, Vice President and Treasurer of the Council for Exceptional Children; (4) President, Senior Vice President, and Secretary-Treasurer of the Purdue Chapter of The Society of Sigma Xi; (5) Founding Member, Charter Member of the Board of Directors, Vice President for Publications, Member of the Executive Committee of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication; (6) Chair and Vice-Chair of the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Professional Specialty Group of RESNA; (7) Founding Member of USSAAC; and (8) Founding Member of the Indiana Chapter of USSAAC. Lyle also provided professional consultation services for agencies, institutions, and organizations in 13 states in the U.S. and seven foreign nations. He was an expert witness on intellectual disability and deafness in Jane Doe v. District of Columbia et al. (1987-88); served as a reviewer for OSERS grants for eight years between 1988 and 2008; and provided peer reviews for eight ASHA position papers, guidelines and technical reports on such topics as AAC, intellectual and developmental disabilities, facilitated communication, assistive technology in the schools, AAC knowledge and skills, and the speech-language pathology scope of practice. Lyle was instrumental in the decision of the CAA and Council for Clinical Certification (CFCC) to change “communication modalities” to “augmentative and alternative communication” as one of the Big 9 areas of clinical practice for pre-professional education in speech-language pathology. Finally, Lyle helped to establish the Edwin and Esther Prentke AAC Distinguished Lecture in 1997.

Throughout his career, Lyle received several honors and accolades. He was a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. He earned Honors of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and Council for Exceptional Children Division for Children with Communication Disorders. Lyle earned the President’s Award from the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication twice and its Distinguished Service Award once. He earned ASHA’s Certificate of Appreciation four times. He was a Fulbright-Hays Senior Research Scholar in 1984 and earned a National Institutes of Health Travel Award in 1985. Lyle was awarded the first Distinguished Alumni Award from the Department of Communication Disorders at Eastern Illinois University. He was chosen Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor, College of Education at Purdue University in 2006. Finally, Lyle was appointed to the position of Distinguished Professor (2003-05) and then was conferred an Honorary Doctorate (2006) from the University of Pretoria.

Over the course of his 34 years at Purdue, Lyle mentored 39 doctoral students. Of considerable note was the fact that many of his doctoral students were international students (at least ten and the actual number may be even higher). Lyle was a very strong advocate for training the next generation of AAC researchers both nationally and internationally. Some of his former doctoral students are now among the premiere researchers in the field (e.g., Rajinder Koul, Ralf Schlosser, Gloria Soto), master practitioners/educators (e.g., Carol Goossens’, Carole Zangari); and inventors/entrepreneurs (e.g., Ravi Nigam, Oliver Wendt) Several either served or are currently serving as administrators in higher education (e.g., Donald R. Fuller, Kathleen Kangas, Rajinder Koul, Judith Page, Ralf Schlosser). These individuals and many others not mentioned here are carrying on Lyle’s legacy and are developing the next generation of AAC academicians and practitioners. Lyle’s influence on the AAC community will be felt for a very long time.

What can people say of another person’s life once he or she has passed over into eternity? Perhaps the ultimate question is, “What was his or her legacy?” In other words, did he or she change the world for the better during their short existence? For Lyle L. Lloyd the answer to that question is crystal clear. Lyle departed this world leaving a legacy that will live on as long as human beings continue to face the challenges of disability. Lyle loved humanity; he loved imparting knowledge to his students, to other professionals and to those in positions of authority to effect change benefitting persons with disabilities. He loved the movement he helped create and loved watching it evolve from a loosely bound entity into a highly organized discipline that transcends professional boundaries. He loved life, his family, his profession. Just as he played the game of football as a young college student, in his professional life he left it all out on the field.

No doubt, 50 years from now after most of us have left this world and newer generations carry on the practice of speech-language pathology, the name Lyle Lloyd will be among the pantheon of significant change agents of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association along with luminaries such as Sara Stinchfield, Lee Edward Travis, Charles Van Riper and Robert West.

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With deepest gratitude from all of us who knew you and from those whose lives you changed for the better who may have never known you. Farewell, Lyle L. Lloyd!

Donald R. Fuller, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, ASHA Fellow

Professor and Chair

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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