Updates on Justice, Equity, and Anti-Racism Work in SLHS

A New Year update on our JEAR work

Some of the things we've been doing relate to individual activities:

  • Dr. Alayo Tripp presented “Noisy Ideologies - unpacking assumptions about the significance of diversity” at the Data and Reproducibility in Light of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Symposium held December 3, 2021. View Dr. Tripp’s talk .
  • Marilyn Fairchild is part of a planning group through MNSHA working on a revision of Talk with Me: A Resource Guide for Speech-Language Pathologists and Early Childhood Special Education Teams Working with Linguistically Diverse Young Children and Their Families. This group is seeking to expand the focus of the 2002 and 2012 versions of the manual from early childhood to the lifespan and to incorporate information regarding topics such as gender diversity; neurodiversity; unique challenges seen in health care and private practice; telepractice; interprofessional practice; community engagement; and navigating conflict among stakeholders.  
  • Dr. Kerry Ebert was recently awarded a 5-year research grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The project will study cognitive skills in children with developmental language disorder across different linguistic backgrounds, seeking common underlying deficits that may lead to more equitable identification of the disorder.
  • Dr. Benjamin Munson continues to work on a project with Dr. Alayo Tripp entitled “Race, Ethnicity, and Audiovisual Speech Perception in Normal Hearing and Hearing Impairment,” funded by NIH. Dr. Munson presented two invited talks on this topic: Race, Racialization, and Speech Intelligibility: A Reconceptualization (presented at the City University of New York); and Crowdsourcing Intelligibility: Studying how Social Evaluation and Expectation Affect Speech Perception during Two Ongoing Pandemics (presented at the University of Arizona).

Some of the actions have been institutional:

  • Rachel Ayers, Marilyn Fairchild, Ben Munson, and Matt Winn participated in the CLA-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion kickoff session on November 19. At this gathering, the CLA Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion introduced key leaders and provided an overview of university, collegiate, and department/unit efforts. Faculty and staff from throughout the college worked together in small groups to generate clear statements of our vision for DEI, and explored what it means to center each of these within our units, across the college, and in the lived experiences of our students, staff, and faculty.
  • Becky Lulai has completed training from the President's Initiative for Student Mental Health (PRISMH) and is serving in the role of mental health advocate for the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Science.  The person in this role serves as a liaison for faculty, staff, and students in the department when seeking resources to improve and maintain mental health.  The person in this role also works with the members of the department to critically examine current practices and eliminate unnecessary sources of stress for our students.  
  • The Bilingual/Multicultural Emphasis Program (Bi-MEP), led by Dr. Kerry Ebert, meets regularly to discuss topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This fall we have hosted guest speakers on linguistic racism, equitable access to healthcare via interpreters, and Ojibwe language immersion programs. We've also discussed models of disability and ableism, and worked to recognize our own cultural lenses.
  • We have been continuing to re-evaluate and modify our holistic admissions process. This year we modified the person statement prompts and rubrics used for the application review. 
  • We are excited to announce that we are recruiting PhD students to be a part of the SLHS Inclusive Cohort Program. For this program, we will recruit academically excellent doctoral students with diverse ethnic, racial, economic, and educational backgrounds and experiences. Up to three fellowships are available for students beginning their program of study in fall of 2022. SLHS will support the cohort through dedicated programming and mentorship. In addition to the standard five-year funding package, fellows will receive the following (subject to satisfactory progress and performance):
    • $10,000 annual stipend top-off for five years of standard package
    • $1,500 for professional development and research for five years of standard package
    • Coverage of student services fees for five years of standard package
  • Amanda Greenhart serves on the Negotiations Committee for AFSCME-supported workers at the University. That team has brought proposals to: address issues around transgender and gender non-conforming rights in the workplace; combat structural racism in hiring practices; and defeat bullying culture (thriving in an environment of structural racism and misogyny) in certain departments at the University. When this committee brings these issues to management during the negotiations process, they reinforce that these concerns are not an individual's concerns, and not just labor-supported worker concerns—they are concerns for all workers. 
  • Dr. Munson continues to work with the SLH Equity Action Collective on issues related to social justice in speech-language-hearing sciences.  That research was published in AJSLP this past fall: Yu, B., Horton, R., Munson, B., Newkirk-Turner, B. L., Johnson, V. E., Khamis-Dakwar, R., Munoz, M., & Hyter, Y. D. (2021). Making Race Visible in the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences: A Critical Discourse Analysis. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 1-23.

Lastly, some of these activities represent plans moving forward:

  • Marilyn Fairchild will be serving on ASHA's Multicultural Issues Board beginning in 2022.
  • Marilyn Fairchild is part of a planning group through MNSHA. They are putting together a workshop on dismantling ableism; workshop tentatively scheduled for early spring 2022.  
  • Dr. Benjamin Munson is organizing a special session for the Spring, 2022 Acoustical Society of America meeting (along with Kristin Van Engen, Washington University) entitled "Race, Racialization, and Racism in Speech Perception."
  • Dr. Kerry Witherell has been invited to participate in the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing (NBASLH) working group for the Audiology Exam Review Committee, work to continue into 2022. NBASLH is working on sponsoring an Annual Review Course in preparation for the Praxis II Examination in Audiology. NBASLH has successfully sponsored the Speech-Language Pathology Review since 1988.
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