Friday Jun 19, 2020

Cara Walton: Action Planning for Anti-Racism and AAC

This week, Rachel and Chris interview Cara Walton (@thebuckeyeslp), the author of a recent petition “Demands for ASHA to Increase Cultural Sensitivity.” Cara shares about her experience as a Black woman becoming a speech-language pathologist, what ASHA can do right now to increase cultural sensitivity, and ways that AAC can better support people of color.


Before the interview, Rachel and Chris talk about their previous attempt to discuss anti-racism and AAC on the podcast, how they responded to mistakes they made, and how that response has led to a better understanding of their own cultural “blindspots” and the importance of learning from our mistakes.


Key ideas this week: 


🔑 There is a need for more diversity in the field of speech-language pathology - only 8% of SLPs self-identify as people of color, and only 3% identify as Black. We need to recruit more people of color to become SLPs and audiologists, and push graduate schools to have requirements to enroll a more diverse class.


🔑 Most AAC symbol sets typically default to white male icons being showcased in vocabulary templates and it requires a high level of customization to select and program racially diverse icons. Considering whether the symbols will represent the user can be an important factor when choosing a system for an AAC user. If software developers know racial diversity in symbol sets is a consideration when feature matching, we may see more diverse symbol options in AAC software. 


🔑 There should be a mandatory diversity CEU requirement that is similar to the mandatory ethics CEU requirement, and there should be more CEUs on diversity and multicultural issues available on the ASHA Learning Pass.


We invite you to write your own goals for improving racial equity and share them with us at


Click here to sign the ASHA petition Cara started. 



  1. Donation Spreadsheet
  2. Speech-Specific Organizations:
    1. National Black Association of Speech Language Hearing NBASLH
    2. Sistas in Speech Therapy and Audiology S.I.S.T.A.S.
    3. SLPs of Color 
  3. Education-Related Organizations
    1. Black Girls Code
    2. The Conscious Kid
  4. Social Media Accounts
    1. @equityslps
    2. @slpsofcolor 
    3. @the_juvenileforensic_slp 
    4. @speechologistsf  
    5. @theslpway  
    6. @jrc_theslp  
    7. @ei_incolor  
    8. @thebuckeyslp  
    9. @coffee.communication  
    10. Black Speech-Language Pathologists
    11. SLP Private Practice in Color (Townhall Meeting)
  5. Helpful Podcasts
    1. The Mindful SLP Episode: Anti-Racist Mindfulness
    2. Brene Brown: How to Be an Anti-Racist
  6. Helpful Videos
    1. A Kindergarten Teachers Talking about Racism to her Students
    2. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man 
  7. Helpful Articles
    1. The New Yorker: White Fragility
    2. Comprehensive Anti-Racism Resource Guide

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