Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity

Spring and summer of 2020 will definitely be remembered for decades to come. Pandemic. Protests. Politics. Repeat. Coronavirus. Quarantine. Police Brutality. Activism. Racism. Social Justice. Advocacy. Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity have become talking points among many. These areas have always been significant, but are now more at the forefront of discussions and action plans in most organizations. I love the quote by Maya Angelou, it reminds us all that “diversity makes for a rich tapestry and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” Diversity is about embracing differences and recognizing the amazing things that are possible when it’s woven into an organization’s culture. At the same time, it is extremely important to recognize that individual racism and systemic racism are deeply rooted into the fabric of American Society. There are many factors that have contributed to the injustices and inequities experienced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the United States. White Americans can make a deliberate effort to reflect on their own cultural and racial biases and how those biases impact their perceptions and interactions with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This is something that will be an ongoing journey and time of personal reflection. The time is now to be intentional about learning about effective anti-racism, anti-bias, and equity work daily. Here are some helpful resources. In the fields of speech-language pathology and education, we can continue to promote diversity, inclusion, as well as equity for children, adolescents, families, clients, and colleagues. We can take actionable steps. We must have a more just United States of America.

In the fields of education and allied health, many pediatric speech-language pathologists and educators work with children and adolescents from a wide variety of diverse backgrounds and learning styles. Building Successful Lives Speech & Language Services LLC values diversity and inclusion. Children with special needs are diverse learners that require skilled, strategic, and evidence based practice. We are committed to providing excellent evaluation, therapy, and consultative services for children and adolescents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. We provide speech language pathologists and educators with progress monitoring tools, therapeutic activities, and intervention materials to effectively serve their clients and help them master their goals. We are available to provide consultative services and workshops for speech-language pathologists, educators, school districts, and organizations committed to improving the communication, language, and literacy skills of children and adolescents. They will be equipped with strategic guidance and practical steps to promote learning gains and subsequent life success in youth.

In the fields of speech-language pathology & education, representation absolutely maters. Children and adolescents learn best when they feel valued and have opportunities to engage in culturally relevant and responsive activities, with materials, and literature/text. There is a potential for increased academic achievement when there is a child centered approach that acknowledges a child’s culture and the strengths that it brings to the learning process. There are numerous cultures represented in the U.S. that should be celebrated and embedded into speech/language therapy and curriculum content. Children and adolescents can increase their cultural awareness and appreciation of people from cultures different from their own as well as their own culture. It is important to provide children and adolescents with educational experiences that reflect diverse perspectives even if they live in a homogenous area because it will expand their viewpoints and improve their ability to interact with individuals from various backgrounds. It is critical that young people and adults improve their ability to live and work effectively in an increasingly diverse society. In weekly practice, speech-language pathologists and educators can effectively and purposefully use varying forms of culture such as art, text (poetry/books), and music into speech/language therapy sessions and classroom instruction. Here are some recommendations of books to diversify your children’s literature collection when providing speech/language therapy or classroom instruction. These books are also good to add to your home library for family literacy time with your own children. Here is more information about culturally responsive practices in education.

Did you know that the Atlanta metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States? Metro Atlanta comprises the city and surrounding suburban areas. Like many places in the U.S., it has become more culturally, linguistically, and racial/ethnically diverse. Therefore, it is crucial that organizations, school districts, and small businesses provide services that understand and support the needs of the community. In Metro Atlanta, the population breakdown is:

Total Population- 6,020,364

White- 52.8 %

Black/African American- 34.3 %

Hispanic/Latino- 10.9 %

Asian- 6.1 %

Foreign Born- 13.8 %

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2019 Population Estimates, 2018 American Community Survey, Metro Atlanta Chamber

Did you know that residents in Gwinnett County in Metro Atlanta represent 180 countries? Twenty five percent of the current population was born in a different country. There are over 100 language and dialects spoken by residents in this area. Many other Metro Atlanta counties and areas of the U.S. have a growing diverse population. Most large urban school districts have very diverse student populations. Therefore, there must be educational equity so that each child and adolescent receives what he or she needs to learn, grow, and build a successful life. They must have access to evidence based practice, educational support, and tools to make progress in speech/language therapy and the classroom. Children and adolescents will have to work towards mastering objectives and curriculum content.

Additionally, it will take a community of speech language pathologists, educators, allied health professionals, and parents providing valuable time and commitment to contribute to students’ communication, academic, social-emotional, and life success. It’s important for speech-language pathologists and educators to continually deepen their understanding of best practices in their respective fields. They must practice cultural humility and sensitivity by respecting differences and interact successfully with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Tamara Russell, an educator in Florida, provides great information on her blog and a list of books for educators to think critically about identify, culturally responsive teaching, socio-emotional learning, internalized bias, systemic inequity, and the historical resilience of Black, Indigenous, People of Color. You can read more about that here.

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