Our voice should match the person we are inside. If it doesn’t, we feel discomfort; distress. – Shelagh Davies
Helping singers regain their voices and transgendered people find their voices are two of the job satisfactions for UBC Alumna Shelagh Davies. (MSc’75). Shelagh is a Registered Speech-Language Pathologist, a Clinical Assistant Professor, and researcher in the Graduate School of Audiology and Speech Sciences at UBC. She has been practicing for over 25 years. In the early days she established speech-language pathology services at Lions Gate Hospital and Burnaby General Hospital, then went on to open her own private practice. She now specializes in working with the voice and its disorders and regularly sees performers, teachers, public speakers, those living with Parkinson’s, and individuals with issues of gender and voice.
Seeing clients with their ‘ah-ha’ moment as they grasp a concept or understand a technique is what motivates this alumna to continue in her work and research.
As a singer and performer herself, Shelagh is familiar with the struggles and challenges of performance, but as a speech-language pathologist she understands the science and medical aspects as well. She finds a perfect balance in her profession, blending her passion with her knowledge.
Research on transgendered voice is still in the beginning stages but Shelagh is seen as a leader in the field not only in Vancouver and BC but also internationally. In 2006 she co-wrote best practice guidelines for BC clinicians on transgender speech feminization/masculinization. She is currently working on an international research project to assess the validity and reliability of a ‘self evaluation of voice questionnaire’ that she previously developed. Currently there is no standard tool that allows transgender people to evaluate their own voices so this questionnaire will be important both clinically and for research. There have already been several requests for it to be translated into different languages.
Shelagh holds regular vocal rehabilitation and training workshops for singers and a speech and voice training program for transsexual women. Looking ahead Shelagh hopes to develop a workshop for singing teachers about aspects of voice science relevant to the singing voice. She is also looking forward to developing a program to train other speech-language pathologists in working with transgendered voice.
(If you would like more information on Shelagh Davies, you can visit her website at http://www.shelaghdavies.com/ )
Written by: Marisa Moody