I Don’t See Color: How Your Own Cultural Identity Shapes Your Clinical Practice

presented by Laura DeThorne & Megan-Brette Hamilton

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Do you see race and cultural identity when you look at your clients? Chances are you do, and we suggest that you should. Race and cultural identity have a substantial influence on communicative practices, and to ignore such key aspects of identity is to render us less effective, and potentially harmful clinicians. The vast majority of speech-language pathologists are White middle-class females, and the majority of our clients are not. Consequently, we will provide you with a framework for reflecting on cultural identity, yours and others.' We will also highlight examples for how “seeing color” will help make you a more culturally-competent therapist.

Meet Your Instructors

  • Laura DeThorne, PhD, CCC-SLP

    Dr. Laura DeThorne is an associated professor of Speech & Hearing Science at the University of Illinois and an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist. Her work over the last 20 years has focused on understanding individual and group differences in language development and the potential implications for education and intervention practices. With the intent of bridging biomedical and social models of disability, Dr. DeThorne's clinical research has centered on children diagnosed with autism, developmental apraxia of speech, and users of augmentative and alternative technology (AAC). She also collaborates with Dr. Megan-Brette Hamilton to raise awareness regarding how race and culture intersect with our understanding of disability. Dr. DeThorne has presented her work internationally, published over 40 papers, and been funded by multiple agencies, including the National Institutes of Health.

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  • Megan-Brette Hamilton, PhD, CCC-SLP

    Dr. Megan-Brette Hamilton is an assistant professor of Communication Disorders at Auburn University and an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist. She spent 10 years working in New York city schools as a speech-language pathologist where her students were primarily African American and Latino/a. From the beginning of her career in communication sciences and disorders, she has always been interested in understanding the influence of language and culture on communication. This includes areas of diagnosed language disorders, language processing differences, and language variations. Specifically, Dr. Hamilton’s research centers on the classroom experiences of African-American English-speaking children and other speakers of non-mainstream dialects. She is curious about the paralinguistics of dialect, teacher-student communication interactions, and the role of dialect in acquiring Mainstream American English literacy. She also collaborates with Dr. Laura DeThorne to raise awareness regarding how race and culture intersect with our understanding of disability. Dr. Hamilton has presented her work internationally, consulted with teachers and speech-language pathologists, and maintains a website www.honeybeeconnection.com dedicated to increasing the understanding of cultural-linguistic diversity.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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  1. Exploring Your Own Cultural Identity

    1. Exploring Your Own Cultural Identity

    This chapter will explore the concept of cultural identity from the perspective of individual experience. Consistent with many professional guidelines, cultural competence requires an understanding of the unique combination of cultural variables (e.g., age, gender, linguistic background, race/ethnicity) that the client and professional bring to their interactions.

  2. Your Norm Isn't My Norm: Learning to See Color

    2. Your Norm Isn't My Norm: Learning to See Color

    This chapter is designed to encourage viewers to identify and appreciate cultural-linguistic differences in their clients. We provide specific examples of key learning experiences from our own practice.

  3. Who are you Calling Privileged?

    3. Who are you Calling Privileged?

    This chapter introduces the concept of privilege, specifically White privilege, and highlights how school settings tend to privilege American White middle-class culture. We provide explicit examples in terms of background knowledge, learning style, language use, and discipline.

  4. The Shift from Color-Blind to Color Competent

    4. The Shift from Color-Blind to Color Competent

    This chapter is designed to present 5 general strategies for becoming a culturally competent SLP: a) talk explicitly about language variation, b) find cultural brokers, c) build partnerships around shared values, d) work with children’s strengths/interests, and e) find culturally relevant materials. We exemplify each strategy by applying it to two distinct cases from our clinical practices.