Cultural Competence Needed to Distinguish Disorder from Difference: Beyond Kumbaya What does it mean to have true cultural competence as an speech-language pathologist (SLP)? In some areas of practice it may be enough to develop a perspective that values the expectations and identity of our clients and see them as partners in the therapeutic process. But when clinicians are asked ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2015
Cultural Competence Needed to Distinguish Disorder from Difference: Beyond Kumbaya
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Catherine J. Crowley
    Program in Speech-Language Pathology, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY
  • Kristin Guest
    New York City Department of Education, Brooklyn, NY
  • Kenay Sudler
    New York City Department of Education, Brooklyn, NY
  • Financial Disclosure: Catherine J. Crowley is Professor of Practice, founding director of the Bilingual/Multicultural Program Focus, the Bilingual Extension Institute, and the Ghana and Bolivia programs. She is also an employee of Teachers College Columbia University and has created Grammar Fundamentals for a Pluralistic Society and LEADERSproject.org as part of her work as an employee there. Kristin Guest has received payment for working on Leadersproject.org. Kenay Sudler has received payment for working on Leadersproject.org.
    Financial Disclosure: Catherine J. Crowley is Professor of Practice, founding director of the Bilingual/Multicultural Program Focus, the Bilingual Extension Institute, and the Ghana and Bolivia programs. She is also an employee of Teachers College Columbia University and has created Grammar Fundamentals for a Pluralistic Society and LEADERSproject.org as part of her work as an employee there. Kristin Guest has received payment for working on Leadersproject.org. Kenay Sudler has received payment for working on Leadersproject.org.×
  • Nonfinancial Disclosure: Catherine J. Crowley has no nonfinancial interests related to the content of this article. Kristin Guest has no nonfinancial interests related to the content of this article. Kenay Sudler has no nonfinancial interests related to the content of this article.
    Nonfinancial Disclosure: Catherine J. Crowley has no nonfinancial interests related to the content of this article. Kristin Guest has no nonfinancial interests related to the content of this article. Kenay Sudler has no nonfinancial interests related to the content of this article.×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Professional Issues & Training / Articles
Article   |   August 01, 2015
Cultural Competence Needed to Distinguish Disorder from Difference: Beyond Kumbaya
SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations, August 2015, Vol. 22, 64-76. doi:10.1044/cds22.2.64
History: Received May 25, 2015 , Revised July 30, 2015 , Accepted August 2, 2015
SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations, August 2015, Vol. 22, 64-76. doi:10.1044/cds22.2.64
History: Received May 25, 2015; Revised July 30, 2015; Accepted August 2, 2015

What does it mean to have true cultural competence as an speech-language pathologist (SLP)? In some areas of practice it may be enough to develop a perspective that values the expectations and identity of our clients and see them as partners in the therapeutic process. But when clinicians are asked to distinguish a language difference from a language disorder, cultural sensitivity is not enough. Rather, in these cases, cultural competence requires knowledge and skills in gathering data about a student's cultural and linguistic background and analyzing the student's language samples from that perspective. This article describes one American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)-accredited graduate program in speech-language pathology and its approach to putting students on the path to becoming culturally competent SLPs, including challenges faced along the way. At Teachers College, Columbia University (TC) the program infuses knowledge of bilingualism and multiculturalism throughout the curriculum and offers bilingual students the opportunity to receive New York State certification as bilingual clinicians. Graduate students must demonstrate a deep understanding of the grammar of Standard American English and other varieties of English particularly those spoken in and around New York City. Two recent graduates of this graduate program contribute their perspectives on continuing to develop cultural competence while working with diverse students in New York City public schools.

Become a SIG Affiliate
Pay Per View
Entire SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations content & archive
24-hour access
This Issue
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access
We've Changed Our Publication Model...
The 19 individual SIG Perspectives publications have been relaunched as the new, all-in-one Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups.