The Bilingual Clinician and ASHA’s Division 14: Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically-Diverse (CLD) Populations

  • February 8, 2010
  • Nancy Lewis

Nancy Lewis, M.S. CCC-SLP. Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist, Denver, CO

Nancy Lewis, M.S. CCC-SLP has been a pediatric speech-language pathologist for 30 years. Currently, she leads a Bilingual Consultation Team for a large school district in the metro-Denver area, providing bilingual assessments (English-Spanish) and consultation to schools regarding English language learners. Her areas of expertise have included child phonology and the provision of services to culturally and linguistically diverse populations. She is the co-author of the Khan-Lewis Phonological Analysis-Second Edition. Nancy is the Coordinator of the ASHA Special Interest Division 14: Communication Development and Disorders in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations.

It is February 2010. Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow. And we all know what that means. ….six more weeks of winter! I am writing this from Boulder, Colorado, where this forecast is quite believable.

Currently, I have the good fortune of being the Coordinator of the ASHA Special Interest Division 14: Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations (hereinafter referred to as Division 14). As you may know, there are 16 Special Interest Divisions that operate within ASHA. The idea of offering ASHA members a manner in which to become affiliated with a smaller group of professionals that allows members to identify with their distinct clinical interests has been wildly popular. So popular, in fact, other professional associations have replicated ASHA’s model.

Since the beginning of the program, the growth in the Special Interest Divisions (SIDs) has occurred primarily through grassroots efforts. The SIDs are an integral part of ASHA, yet they are fueled by the organizing efforts of volunteer steering committee members and the enthusiasm of affiliates. In 1994, Division 14 was established to offer a SID that was devoted to cultural and linguistic diversity issues among the populations that we serve.

If you are reading this blog posting, that means that you are familiar with the Bilingual Therapies website. Perhaps you are a bilingual speech-language pathologist (SLP)? Or maybe you are a graduate student? Obviously, you have discovered that Adelante is a terrific resource for multicultural issues. However you got here, it is probably safe to assume that you are dedicated to providing the best services possible to culturally and linguistically diverse populations.

Having spent much of my thirty-year career serving children who represented aspects of cultural and/or linguistic diversity, it was a natural fit to become an affiliate of Division 14. It is a delight to be in the role of Coordinator for many of the same reasons that it is enticing to be an affiliate of the Division. I’ll describe some of the benefits of affiliation and highlight some opportunities within the SIDs.

Division 14 offers a venue to deepen our knowledge and understanding of CLD issues, to strengthen our clinical skills, and to build a professional learning community in the process. One of the ways that we do this is through Perspectives, a small online journal that is published three times a year. The topics in Perspectives are fresh and current and the articles offer a way for affiliates to earn ASHA Continuing Education Units (while in your pajamas!). We sponsor seminars and short courses at the annual ASHA convention helping to ensure that the convention program addresses issues that bilingual clinicians want to hear about. Our sponsorship at the ASHA Schools and Health Care conferences results in a discounted registration fee for Division 14 affiliates. And to keep the dialogue active, we offer a web-forum (

Within Division 14, there are opportunities to develop leadership skills and discover ways to impact the field, especially in terms of communication development and disorders with culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Division 14 has a steering committee of five, an editor of Perspectives and a Continuing Education Administrator. Steering committee members are elected by affiliates and serve a three-year term. Actually, this month nominations will begin for two steering committee positions (for the 2011-2014 term) and electronic elections will be held later this spring. Affiliates may self-nominate. So, if you have a desire to become more involved in ASHA and to contribute to the field, consider a nomination for one of these positions. The ASHA website is the place to find more information about the steering committee elections as well as the way to become a Division 14 affiliate.

I recently discovered that 81% of ASHA members that are also an affiliate of at least one of the Special Interest Divisions define their “primary employment function” as clinical service provider. To me, this explains the power of the grassroots efforts that has lead to the growth and success of the Divisions. As bilingual clinicians or monolingual clinicians serving diverse communities, Division 14 is a place to share your ideas and concerns, influence the direction of our field, and establish relationships with other SLPs dedicated to serving our diverse populations. Check us out at the ASHA website:

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Together, let’s create brighter futures for culturally diverse students.