Clinical Perspective

Stitching a new garment: Considering the future of the speech–language therapy profession globally

Bea Staley, Marise Fernandes, Ellen Hickey, Helen Barrett, Karen Wylie, Julie Marshall, Mershen Pillay, Harsha Kathard, Ryann Sowden, David Rochus, Carol E. Westby, T. Rosario Roman, Sally D. Hartley
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 69, No 1 | a932 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v69i1.932 | © 2022 Bea Staley, Marise Fernandes, Ellen Hickey, Helen Barrett, Karen Wylie, Julie Marshall, Mershen Pillay, Harsha Kathard, Ryann Sowden, David Rochus, Carol E. Westby, T. Rosario Roman, Sally D. Hartley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 March 2022 | Published: 21 November 2022

About the author(s)

Bea Staley, College of Health and Human Sciences, Charles Darwin University, Casuarina, Australia
Marise Fernandes, School of Health and Human Sciences, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC, United States of America
Ellen Hickey, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada
Helen Barrett, Faculty of Health and Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom
Karen Wylie, Curtin School of Allied Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia; and, College of Health Sciences University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
Julie Marshall, Faculty of Health and Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom; and, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Mershen Pillay, Institute of Education, Massey University, Palmerston, New Zealand; and, Discipline of Speech Language Pathology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Harsha Kathard, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Ryann Sowden, Bristol Medical School (Population Health Sciences), University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
David Rochus, Yellow House Health and Outreach Services, Kisumu, Kenya
Carol E. Westby, Bilingual and Multicultural Services Albuquerque, Albuquerque, NM, United States of America
T. Rosario Roman, Bilingual and Multicultural Services Albuquerque, Albuquerque, NM, United States of America
Sally D. Hartley, School of Health Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom


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Abstract

Providing equitable support for people experiencing communication disability (CD) globally is a historical and contemporary challenge for the speech–language therapy profession. A group of speech–language therapists (SLTs) with ongoing and sustained experiences in Majority and Minority World contexts participated in five virtual meetings in 2021. The aim of these meetings was to develop provocative statements that might spur a global discussion among individuals and organisations that support people experiencing CD. The following questions were discussed: What is our vision for the future of the profession globally? What are the global challenges around access to speech–language therapy services?

Four main themes emerged: (1) the need to centre people experiencing CD as the focal point of services, (2) participation, (3) equity and (4) community. The themes relate to the need for a process of de-imperialism in the profession. Suggestions were made to develop more suitable terminology and to establish a global framework that promotes more equitable access to communication services. We seek the adoption of approaches that focus on reciprocal global engagement for capacity strengthening. Alternative models of culturally sustaining and equitable service delivery are needed to create impact for people experiencing CD, and their families worldwide.

Contribution: Provocative statements were developed to prompt global conversations among speech–language therapy professionals and associations. We encourage readers to consider the questions posed, share their viewpoints and initiate positive change towards a global strategy.


Keywords

communication disability; global practice; equity; future; Majority and Minority World contexts

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