Rural Georgia School District Adopts Online Speech Therapy to Balance District Therapist Caseloads

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Fannin County uses PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy with 30 K-8 students.


The PresenceLearning SLPs have been great about gathering information, communicating with teachers and our SLPs, and being very responsive and compliant with timelines,

After hearing how Union County School System, a school district near Fannin County with similar speech-language pathologist (SLP) shortages, successfully implemented online speech therapy, Fannin County Schools in Blue Ridge, GA, decided to do the same. Fannin County Schools selected PresenceLearning, the leader in online speech therapy and other special education-related services for K-12 students, and, now has approximately 30 students in grades K-8 using online speech therapy.

Fannin County is located in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountain Range, approximately 90 miles north of Atlanta. Their rural location made it difficult for Fannin County Schools to find qualified SLPs. and when the district had not filled their fourth SLP vacancy within a four-month period, they began looking for alternatives. After speaking with individuals at Union County School System, Fannin County Schools’ Special Education Specialist, Heather Finley, and its Director of Student Services, Betsy Hyde, decided to move forward with online speech therapy, despite both SLP and parent skepticism.

“We previewed PresenceLearning with our district SLPs last spring, and we were all reluctant to try it,” said Finley. “We heard that online therapy worked really well for Union County, but we felt an on-site therapist was better. Parents were also concerned that their students would not receive the attention they needed.”

To combat this reluctance, Fannin County Schools specifically chose students who only had speech issues to use the online therapy. The district also invited parents to come into the school and participate in a simulated online speech therapy session. After implementation at the beginning of the year, the feedback has been positive.

“The PresenceLearning SLPs have been great about gathering information, communicating with teachers and our SLPs, and being very responsive and compliant with timelines,” said Finley. “They are very efficient in IEP meetings and very informative to the parents. And the parents are happy to hear that their children are engaged, focus and getting the support they need.”

Since 2009, PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy services have provided schools with a practical, affordable new option for service delivery: web-based access to a nationwide network of live, highly qualified, fully licensed speech-language pathologists who are available whenever and wherever they are needed. This past year, PresenceLearning added occupational therapy (OT) and online assessments to their service offering. By partnering with PresenceLearning, school districts can fill staffing gaps related to acute and chronic SLP and OT shortages, reduce high caseloads for onsite personnel, reduce their backlog of assessments, improve student outcomes and become more efficient. PresenceLearning also offers access to technical specialists, as well as culturally and linguistically diverse speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists.

PresenceLearning has delivered more than 250,000 live online therapy sessions in public, charter and virtual school districts of all sizes nationwide.

About PresenceLearning
PresenceLearning ( is the leading provider of live online speech therapy services for K-12 students and now offers online occupational therapy as well. The company offers school districts web-based access to a growing, nationwide network of hundreds of highly qualified speech language pathologists (SLPs) and occupational therapists (OTs) via live videoconferencing combined with the latest in evidence-based practices and powerful progress reporting.

Serving thousands of students in public, charter and virtual schools throughout the U.S., PresenceLearning has shown that online speech and language therapy is practical, affordable and highly effective. PresenceLearning is an ASHA-approved continuing education provider for SLPs and a U.S. Department of Education grant-winner, dedicated to bringing the highest clinical standards to online therapy.

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Kati Elliott
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