Recently the United States has been
undergoing dramatic changes in their population demographics. As the
demographics evolve in the US, so do the qualifications necessary for Speech Language
Pathologists to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. We must prepare the
Speech Language Pathologists of the future to accommodate for diversity by
teaching them to be culturally aware, to be motivated to expand their knowledge
beyond what has been expected of them in the past, and to work towards
reforming the current speech evaluation systems to account for language
differences.

With the growing population of
English Second Language learners in the United States it is vital that Speech
Language Pathologists make all efforts to be as culturally knowledgeable and
experienced as they can be. The skill set that is necessary for SLP’s to
adequately do their jobs will likely soon be redefined. In the past, formal
training in cultural diversity was unnecessary for SLPs. However, in a country
experiencing a proliferation in its minority populations, it is not only
advantageous to have cross language/cultural knowledge, but it will most likely
become a vital and mandatory skill set necessary to be a practicing SLP.
Considering that, currently, the overwhelming majority of all SLPs are
Caucasian English-speaking females, it does not seem practical that there will
ever be enough bilingual SLPs to meet the increasing demand for them. While I
doubt that bilingualism will ever be an official SLP skill requirement, I do
believe that what will be a requirement is receiving formal training in certain
culture’s nonverbal and verbal cues as well as their cultural norms. Having SLP’s
learn and understand another cultures customs, beliefs, and norms will enable
them to reach a broader range of patients to whom they can provide their
services in a manner that is both respectful and efficient.

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Another way SLPS can work towards
minimizing the issues that language barriers present is by creating speech evaluation systems that are more dynamic
and account for language differences. Language differences such as slang or,
for example, a variation in grammatical structure amongst two languages, could end
up causing a misdiagnosed speech disorder. This is already a pressing issue in
the US and it will continue to grow unless evaluation systems are modified to
recognize discrepencies between languages and cultures.

            Regardless of the exact numbers, it
is evident that in the near future the United States will see an extensive growth
in it’s already large Hispanic population. Therefore, the demand for bilingual
Spanish SLPs is increasing. I feel very strongly that we as a nation need to
accommodate to the increasing cultural diversity in the United States, which is
why I am currently working towards receiving a Spanish minor. In the future, I
plan to apply Spanish and my knowledge on Hispanic culture in my job as an SLP
in hopes to reach a broader range of patients, and to ensure that no one, no
matter how culturally or linguistically diverse, has to go without proper and
adequate speech therapy.

 

 

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