Advocating for Marginalized Communities and College Affordability: A Guide for Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Students

As aspiring professionals in the fields of audiology and speech-language pathology, we have the unique opportunity to advocate for marginalized communities and address college affordability. Advocacy goes beyond legislative actions and can take place in various settings throughout our educational journey. By actively supporting marginalized groups and promoting equal access to education, we can contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society. In this blog post, we will explore practical steps and resources to effectively advocate for marginalized communities and address college affordability.

1. Recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion in our professions

In the fields of audiology and speech-language pathology, diversity and inclusion are crucial for effective learning, practice, and service provision. According to ASHA’s 2022 Member Profile, 8.9% of ASHA members and affiliates self-identify as racially minoritized groups. In contrast, 38.4% of the U.S. population self-identify as racially minoritized groups. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020). The recent Supreme Court decision to end affirmative action in college admissions may impact current efforts to diversify the professions. The ACLU developed this podcast episode, which explains the history of affirmative action or race-conscious admissions and the effects of the decision.

2. Educate yourself about the challenges faced by marginalized communities

To be an effective advocate, it is essential to understand the unique challenges and barriers that marginalized communities encounter. National NSSLHA’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Action (IDEA) Work Group has created this resource page highlighting the experience of CSD students and professionals from marginalized groups and tools to help you learn and take action.

3. Engage in student outreach and advocacy initiatives

As students, we have the power to drive change within our educational institutions. Get involved in student outreach and advocacy initiatives and organizations that focus on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Consider mentoring middle school and high school students or sharing information about careers in CSD with them to attract them to the professions. National NSSLHA will have a student-created toolkit available soon.

Look for opportunities to collaborate with your campus NSSLHA chapter, fellow students, faculty members, and professionals to build awareness and advocate for meaningful and sustainable change. Check out National NSSLHA’s advocacy and community outreach resources to get ideas.

4. Utilize professional resources for inclusive practice

ASHA offers a range of resources that can help us create inclusive learning and practice environments. Access resources like ASHA’s Special Collections on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning. These resources will enhance your knowledge and skills in providing culturally sensitive and affirming care. Additionally, explore articles and podcasts discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field to gain insights and ideas for advocacy.

Steps to Support Marginalized Communities and Promote College Affordability

Step 1: Stay informed

Stay up to date on legislative issues and policies that affect marginalized communities and college affordability. Explore resources, such as scholarly journals and professional publications, on current topics related to diversity, equity, and college access. Also consider:

Step 2: Actively listen to marginalized voices

Listen to the experiences of people from marginalized groups and seek to understand them. At some points, the information shared may make you uncomfortable or you may feel embarrassed about not knowing or frustrated with what you are learning — that’s okay and normal. What is important is that you do not put the burden on the person sharing to convince or make you feel “better.” Instead, take in the information and think about what it means. Then, consider how you can help or amplify the efforts to make change.

Step 3: Amplify marginalized voices

Focus on amplifying the voices of marginalized communities. Consider how you can highlight peers and colleagues and protect their space to share. On social media, share personal stories, experiences, and perspectives that highlight the importance of diversity and equity in our professions. Collaborate with diverse populations and involve them in research, clinical projects, and community outreach activities.

Step 4: Connect with your professional organizations

Engage with professional organizations like National NSSLHA and ASHA to stay informed about their advocacy efforts and participate in National NSSLHA’s Virtual Student Advocacy Day on October 26, 2023. Attend conferences, workshops, and webinars focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in audiology and speech-language pathology, such as NBASLH’s Cultural Humility conference. Take advantage of networking opportunities to connect with professionals and fellow students who share your passion for advocacy, especially through state associations.

Step 5: Collaborate with faculty and clinical supervisors

Build relationships with faculty members and clinical supervisors who are supportive of diversity and inclusion. Seek mentorship and guidance on how to incorporate advocacy into your academic and clinical experiences. Work together to create inclusive spaces that celebrate diversity and provide opportunities for underrepresented individuals. Watch the recording of National NSSLHA’s Raw Conversations: How to Pick Grad Schools From a DEIB Standpoint to get ideas about how your program or university can attract and retain students from diverse backgrounds.

Step 6: Advocate for college access and affordability

Recognize the admissions and financial challenges faced by many students seeking to enter our professions. Stay informed about scholarships, grants, and loan forgiveness programs that can help alleviate the financial burden. If your school accepts volunteers for admissions interviews, sign up! In these types of volunteer positions, you can learn about the admissions process and add a new perspective to how the committee views and selects applicants.

 Check out resources from groups like:

Also, visit and share National NSSLHA’s scholarship resource page, created by the IDEA Work Group. Advocate for increased funding and support for affordable education within your institutions and at the state and federal levels.

In conclusion . . .

As students in audiology and speech-language pathology programs, we have a vital role to play in advocating for marginalized communities and addressing college affordability. By recognizing the significance of diversity, educating ourselves, engaging in student advocacy, utilizing professional resources, and taking practical steps, we can make a meaningful impact. Let us commit to fostering inclusive environments, amplifying marginalized voices, and working towards a future where everyone has equal access to education and quality care. Together, we can create positive change and promote diversity and equity in our professions.

If you have comments, questions, or concerns, please contact the National NSSLHA Executive Council. We are committed to building a strong and diverse membership community!

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.