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Making an impact through communication

The field of communication disorders focuses on collaboration among faculty, students, clients and families to meet the needs of individuals with communication disorders. We have high expectations for all of our undergraduate and graduate students and a proven track record of positive teaching and learning experiences. As a helping profession, we take our responsibility seriously to prepare our students to become innovative, critical-thinking professionals.

Communication as a Fundamental Human Right  

In 1948, the United Nations made a universal declaration of communication as a fundamental human right. “Everyone has a right to the freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through media and regardless of frontiers” (United Nations, 1948). In Communication Sciences and Disorders, ensuring equitable access to communication across the broad range of people we serve is not a new idea, nor is it a political idea. This is a concept forged in effectively serving individuals with a diverse range of abilities, beliefs, and cultures. 

Because communication is a fundamental human right (McLeod, 2018), we are invested in taking tangible, concrete actions toward improving the operational systems within our own organization to make sure they support people from all backgrounds, identities, and abilities. Those systems include educational systems, clinical service systems, and departmental process systems. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), it is our professional obligation to serve all individuals from a variety of different backgrounds with communication needs to ensure their personal autonomy. In order to train practitioners who effectively meet that professional obligation without bias or discrimination, we need to prepare students within an educational context that addresses those differences, regardless of faculty and student beliefs and perspectives. We are stronger when we draw upon a broader range of perspectives. Those broader perspectives include, but are not limited to:  

  • Aspects of identity such as ability, age, body composition, dialect and language, ethnicity, family structure, gender, gender expression, mobility, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status  
  • Modalities of communication such as oral, written, manual (American Sign Language, Signing Exact English), extralinguistic (e.g., prosodic) and non-linguistic communication (e.g., gestural), and other modalities of communication such as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) 
  • Individuals with communication disorders and differences across the human spectrum, such as: alterations in communication caused by stroke, brain injuries, medical interventions, developmental disorders, hearing loss and disorders, Deafness, neurodiversity, stuttering and speech fluency, gender affirming communication, voice differences and disorders, speech and language differences and disorders across a broad range of dialects and languages, and communication abilities impacted by social determinants of health and education, health and education disparities 
To demonstrate our commitment to communication as a human right, we are taking action within the following areas: 
  • We’re working to ensure that the composition of our students and our faculty reflects the demographics of the population we serve, across a variety of backgrounds and identities.  
  • We’re working to increase our capacity to provide clinical services to individuals from a variety of backgrounds and identities. 
  • We’re working to support students within our program in a multitude of ways.  
  • We’re working to prepare students to adapt their clinical services to meet the communication needs of a broad range of backgrounds and identities. 
  • We’re working to ensure a broad range of clientele have access to the services we provide. 

I loved the CSD program at UW-Eau Claire! From my first course as a college freshman to my last course as a graduate student, I had nothing but positive experiences!

Dana Kuehn Communication Sciences and Disorders Graduate Program
Camp participant Tim Kersten and student Madeline Miller

Talk about amazing experiences

The experiences you have in Communication Sciences and Disorders are bound to make a lasting impact on you and those you work with. Whether you engage in faculty-student collaborative research projects, participate in one of our many clinical opportunities or take your studies overseas, you will develop critical thinking and collaborative engagement skills to prepare you for any career path. 

Explore opportunities in CSD

A geography student on a study abroad trip.

Explore the opportunities abroad

The number of experiences available to undergraduate students to study abroad while at UWEC are countless. Attend study abroad programs specific to your major, or pursue one of the many study abroad programs available to students of all areas of study.

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