Lingraphica joins the thousands of those in our community who are mourning the loss of aphasia pioneer and legend Audrey Holland. Audrey’s accomplishments and contributions to the field of aphasia cannot be understated. Her whole-person approach to aphasia revolutionized treatment, influencing mainstream care and improving countless lives.
Audrey was an absolute authority on aphasia. And while one was always aware that they were in special company, she never made you feel as if you were in the presence of anything other than a friend.
As we reflect on her legacy, we’d like to share some personal tributes from a few Lingraphica employees.
Brianne Kosch SLPD, CCC-SLP
When I was a graduate student, Dr. Holland was a celebrity to me. I remember being starstruck the first time I met her. Little did I know that she would become a dear friend. She was the embodiment of compassion and fearlessness. She invested all of herself into every individual she treated and mentored. I will miss her stories and our chats about her cats. I will miss trying to beat her at Words with Friends (she remains undefeated). But most of all, I will miss the special bond of friendship we shared.
I was so saddened to hear that Audrey passed away. As a newcomer to the world of aphasia in 2003, Audrey greeted me with her trademark candor and skepticism. But there was also a clear message: if you are serious and have something to contribute, we’ll get along fine. I am happy to say that at some point I cleared that bar. Audrey and I had so many fun and stimulating conversations at conferences, events, and several years of monthly phone calls. We covered aphasia treatment, what Lingraphica was doing right and wrong, positive psychology, the power of resilience, politics, and the state of the world. She was insightful and brought energy and joy to her thinking. There was never a dull moment! Her approach to aphasia has influenced everything we do at Lingraphica. I learned so much from her and she was a true friend.
Allie Reed, MS, CCC-SLP
Although Audrey Holland and I never had the chance to meet in person, I was honored to have spent many phone calls and Zoom calls with her. A revolutionary in our field, her work laid the foundation for everything I do as a clinician today. Audrey had a brilliant mind. She saw things in a way that challenged the norm and yet showed no fear in voicing her opinion. She was down-to-earth, approachable, and ever caring. Her life’s work was ensuring that the person with the communication disorder was viewed and treated as a person, not as a disorder. Every clinician that now structures therapy around functional activities and life participation can thank Audrey. Because of that, her legacy will live on forever.
Dr. Richard Steele
I first met Audrey Holland at the 1986 meeting of the Academy of Aphasia in Nashville, TN. At that meeting, I and my co-investigator, Dr. Michael Weinrich, were presenting the results of our first four years of work developing the C-ViC system, as our Computer-based Visual Communication for Persons with Severe Aphasia was called. The system was primitive by contemporary standards, being implemented on an original Apple Mac Classic computer; but it was quite advanced for its time, incorporating the icons of Howard Gardner’s ViC system, previously drawn only on index cards. Audrey, curious as she was about new developments that could help people with aphasia, engaged in lively discussions with us, and expressed interest in learning more as our work progressed.
We actively stayed in contact with Audrey, helped in no small part by her good friend and colleague, Prof. Terry Wertz, who was collaborating on our project from his base at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Martinez, CA. Our work was being conducted at the Rehabilitation Research and Development Center at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA, about a 90-minute drive from Terry’s shop. When we organized (in conjunction with the Department of Philosophy at Stanford University) a workshop on aphasia and opportunities for its rehabilitation using graphic symbols such as icons, plus multimodal stimulation from specially designed human-computer interaction designs, Audrey accepted our invitation to attend and participate in the workshop as one of the country’s leading aphasiologists.
At that workshop, with Audrey’s participation, we refined our understanding of important concepts, such as purposeful design intended to imbue icons graphically with readily inferable meaning. These concepts informed later efforts to develop an icon library adequate to the tasks of promoting aphasia therapy as well as supporting functional communication in speech-generating devices could be offered as successful products and services by Lingraphica, the company founded to make the fruits of the C-ViC R&D work generally available through marketplace mechanisms.
Audrey’s active and positive collaboration with Lingraphica resumed approximately two decades ago, when outcome studies of persons with aphasia who used Lingraphica’s devices established superior clinical outcomes in treatment programs. Over the past 20 years, Audrey periodically consulted with and supported various people in our growing organization, including CEO Andrew Gomory, Richard Steele, PhD, Brianne Kosch, CCC-SLP, SLP.D., and Allie Reed, MS, CCC-SLP. The constant through-line in all of this has been Audrey’s boundless interest, widespread contacts, mentoring mastery, and commitment to helping people with aphasia live their fullest lives possible. We have appreciated the benefits of her wisdom, support, and enthusiasm. We will miss her . . . as will all the rest of the field of aphasiology.