Let’s start with some numbers! Did you know, according to the U.S. Census Bureau:
- 27.6% of Americans are members of a racial or ethnic minority group.
- 20% of Americans are bilingual (this number is growing drastically).
In contrast, according to ASHA’s 2020 Member & Affiliate Profile:
- 8.5% of ASHA members and affiliates identify as members of a racial minority.
- 8% of ASHA members and affiliates displayed proficiency of a bilingual provider.
While the number of ASHA members and affiliates who identify as a racial or ethnic minority continues to increase, its membership still doesn’t fully reflect the population and communities it serves.
Why Is the Issue of Increasing Diversity So Vital to Our Field?
- Diversity in the field leads to high quality and culturally competent care.
- Diversity in the field gives us access to a greater range of talent and different perspectives.
- Studies like In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health-Care Workforce (Institute of Medicine, 2004) and Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care (Institute of Medicine, 2003) have shown that patients who receive care from members of their own ethnic and racial backgrounds have better outcomes.
- Members of racial and ethnic minority groups are more likely to practice in areas where there are provider shortages.
Take Action on Student Advocacy Day
Recruiting and sustaining a diverse workforce of audiologists and speech-language pathologists to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population of clients, patients, and students is a priority for both National NSSLHA and ASHA.
The Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2021 (H.R. 3320/S. 1679) would increase opportunities for individuals who are from underrepresented backgrounds, including members of racial and ethnic minority groups and those from disadvantaged backgrounds to obtain audiology and speech-language pathology degrees.
5 Steps to Take Action
During Student Advocacy Day 2021 on October 20, National NSSLHA and ASHA are asking you, CSD students, to contact your federal lawmakers in support of this legislation. It’ll take you less than 2 minutes!
- Visit ASHA’s Take Action website for Student Issues to access student-specific letters of support.
- Select “Ask Congress to Promote Workforce Diversity.”
- Fill in your information.
- Review the prewritten letter (if you’d like, you can also add a personal story on how this issue affects you).
- Hit “Submit!”
Feeling motivated? You can send letters of support on other important issues impacting the professions too!
How Will Your Action Help?
Participating in Student Advocacy Day and submitting a Take Action letter will support the passage of the Allied Health Diversity Act of 2021 (H.R.3320/S.1679), which, if enacted, would lead to:
- Enhanced educational opportunities for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds.
- Increased financial support (in the form of grants, scholarships, and stipends) for members of racial and ethnic minority groups and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Closing the gap on provider shortages.
- A workforce that better serves our clients.
Increasing diversity in the CSD field is the key to effective treatment and widespread access to all patients, clients, and students. Your advocacy today directly impacts the future of our professions!