Communication Sciences and Disorders Vision Statement
The vision of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is to be consistently recognized as a learning community that:
- Develops collaborative, interdisciplinary, innovative, culturally responsive citizen-clinicians
- Fosters a learning environment that is accessible to a broad range of learners, recognizing that diversity of thought and experience strengthens our profession and better represents the people we serve
- Engages in scholarly inquiry that transforms our professional practice as we seek to maximize communication outcomes across an increasingly diverse population
- Enhances the human condition by working effectively with colleagues, students, clients, families, and communities across cultures, disciplines, and agencies
- Champions equitable service delivery by dismantling systems that perpetuate disparities, promoting culturally responsive service delivery, and recognizing and celebrating diversity in all forms
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.