This open letter was written by alumni of the University of Maryland Hearing and Speech Department and sent to the ASHA Board of Directors on behalf of the faculty, students and graduates of the program who have signed below. You can add your support to this call to action by adding your name and credentials in the comments.

To the Board of Directors of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association:

Recently ASHA has released three statements regarding its stance on racial inequality in the United States. We were profoundly disappointed in the inadequacy of ASHA’s June 1st response to the nationwide pain, anguish, and mourning over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among countless others who have been killed by police. While we appreciate that ASHA has acknowledged the inadequacy and active harm that its response has caused to BIPOC ASHA members in particular and ASHA members as a whole, the follow-up response remains vague and unhelpful, with total lack of accountability to “[increase] culturally responsive approaches, including cultural humility, and establish anti-racist initiatives to find effective solutions to enhance equity and inclusion within our Association, our professions, and society.”

ASHA’s negligence in the face of oppression of minorities has been seen long before the most recent wave of protests for Black Lives Matter. The people and communities served by the professions of speech-language pathologists and audiologists are diverse, with needs and challenges that we as professionals have yet to rise to meet. ASHA’s statements display the organization’s ignorance of the realities facing two of our most vulnerable patient populations: people of color (particularly Black Americans) and people with disabilities. Numerous news reports have detailed police killings of disabled Black people. Victims who are nonverbal, D/deaf, or with other language differences or disorders, undoubtedly had speech-language pathologists or audiologists engaged in their healthcare. Yet, after these deaths, ASHA has not engaged in any meaningful campaign to prevent these types of deaths from happening in the future. ASHA has not engaged its members in a campaign to identify concrete actions to address its commitment to racial equity or to amplify the voices of people of color in our profession.

The first step in addressing these failures must be systemic change from within ASHA in order to prioritize equitable care for all patients regardless of background and to amplify the voices of speech-language pathologists and audiologists of color. We have developed a list of specific requests to make of the organization that represents us. These suggestions are merely the first step in what must be an ongoing commitment to equality by the organization for its patients and its members.

  1. Immediately decry police brutality against Black Americans and unequivocally state that Black Lives Matter.
  2. Require education in cultural competence, including but not limited to best treatment practices for immigrant populations and trauma-informed care, for all university school programs, working closely with leaders in social justice to develop these requirements.
  3. Require continuing education in cultural competence, including but not limited to best treatment practices for immigrant populations and trauma-informed care, for CCC renewal for each 3-year
    renewal period.
  4. Provide resources to ASHA members of color to develop CEUs across all areas of practice for speech-language pathologists and audiologists to ensure diverse ideas and ideologies are shared.
  5. Develop a task force to increase recruitment of and funding for Black communication sciences and disorders professionals beyond ASHA’s current outreach to other minority communities.
  6. Develop a series of position papers on unequal access to SLP and audiology services, including separate position papers outlining solutions to address unequal access in the case of race, level of
    English proficiency, and lack of health insurance, among others.
  7. Recruit and retain diverse hires to executive leadership positions within ASHA.

We ask that ASHA responds to this letter no later than June 15th, 2020 with a concrete plan and timeline to address our concerns and proposed action items. We believe that several of these items can be addressed in a meaningful way before the end of 2021. In addition, we request that you contact the original author of this letter with any opportunities to participate in ASHA’s efforts to achieve these action items so that she can forward them to the undersigned.

In both of its statements sent earlier this week, ASHA reiterated that communication is a human right. This is true. Communication is a human right. But it is not the only human right. We cannot selectively stand for some rights and not others without tainting ourselves with hypocrisy. It is far past the time for ASHA to act as the leader it claims to be and work towards justice and equity.


Sophie Wereley, MA, CCC-SLP

Sarah Fisher, MA, CCC-SLP

Deborah Colantuoni, MA, CCC-SLP

Andrea Azem, MA, CCC-SLP

Sara Cournoyer, MA, CCC-SLP

Lauren Steedman, MA, CCC-SLP

Nicole Schoenbrun, MA, CCC-SLP

Evelyn Oliveira, MA, CCC-SLP

Seongsil Lee, MA, CCC-SLP

Maria Binger, MA, CCC-SLP

Kelly Crabtree, MA, CCC-SLP

Nisha Sharma, MA, CCC-SLP

Jayna Roscoe, MA, CCC-SLP

Janelle Thompson, MA, CCC-SLP

Rebecca Willman, MA Candidate, Speech-Language Pathology

Kayla Horning, MA Candidate, Speech-Language Pathology

Betsy Gorman, MA Candidate, Speech-Language Pathology

Amanda Giordano, MA Candidate, Speech-Language Pathology

Emily Zeller, MA Candidate, Speech-Language Pathology

Kathleen Oppenheimer, MS, CCC-SLP

Eusebia V. Mont, CCC-SLP
Associate Clinical Professor
Director, Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Emphasis Program (CLD-EP)
Leader, Accent Modification Program

Nicole Nguyen, AuD, CISC, CCC-A
Associate Clinical Professor
Director of Clinical Education in Audiology

Sarah Sohns, AuD, ABA, CCC-A
Assistant Clinical Professor

Nan Bernstein Ratner, F-, H-ASHA, F-AAAS, ABCLD

Samira Anderson, AuD, PhD, CCC-A
Associate Professor

Colleen K. Worthington, CCC-SLP
Clinical Professor
Director, Clinical Education in Speech-Language Pathology

Kristin Slawson, CCC-SLP, CBIS
Clinical Assistant Professor

Jan Edwards
Associate Director, Language Science Center

Jared Novick, PhD
Associate Professor
Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science

Eric Hoover, PhD
Assistant Professor

José A. Ortiz MA, CCC-SLP,
Assistant Clinical Professor
LEAP Director, Bilingual Certificate Program Coordinator

Kathy Dow-Burger, MA, CCC-SLP
Clinical Associate Professor
Co-Director, University of Maryland Autism Research Consortium (UMARC)

Larissa Curry, AuD, CCC-A
Assistant Clinical Professor

Matthew Joseph Goupell
Associate Professor
Director, Auditory Perception and Modeling Lab

Yasmeen Faroqi-Shah, PhD, CCC/SLP
Associate Professor
Aphasia Research Center

Yi Ting Huang, PhD
Associate Professor

Alex Peterson, MA Candidate, Speech-Language Pathology

Dani Otarola, MA Candidate, Speech-Language Pathology

Rebecca E. Bieber, AuD
PhD Candidate, Hearing and Speech Sciences

Alyssa Jordan, MA Candidate, Speech-Language Pathology

Christina Shields, AuD
Assistant Clinical Professor

Vivian Sisskin, CCC-SLP, BCS-F
Clinical Professor
ASHA Fellow

Christina Blomquist, BA, PhD Candidate

Avery Rain, MA, CF-SLP

Jaira Billups, MA, CF-SLP

Kayla Dunn, MA, CF-SLP

Claire Crossman, MA, CF-SLP

Minsun Kim, MA, CF-SLP

Alexis Baione, MA, CF-SLP

Emily Joseph, MA, CF-SLP

Ashley Booterbaugh, BA, MA Candidate, Speech-Language Pathology

Tracy Wong, MA, CF-SLP

Michael Pensabene, MA, CF-SLP

Sandra Guevara, MA, CF-SLP

Allesondra Sanchez, BA, MA Candidate, Speech-Language Pathology

Allison Granados, MA, CF-SLP

Joseph Nicol, MA, CF-SLP

Katie Weidner, MA, CF-SLP

Catherine Seibert, MA, CF-SLP

Emily Sotzing, MA, CF-SLP

Drel Guce, MA, CF-SLP

Sandra Gordon-Salant, Ph.D., CCC-A

Erin Glickman, Au.D., CCC-A

Marios Fourakis
Research Professor

Eliza A. Thompson, Ed.S, CCC-SLP
Assistant Clinical Professor