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Diversity in the Curriculum

August 23, 2022

How can programs demonstrate compliance with revised Standard 3.4 A/B for Diversity in the Curriculum?

Beginning January 1, 2023, the CAA will implement revisions in the Standards for Accreditation that include the expansion of expectations for how programs address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the academic and clinical curriculum. The terms equity and inclusion are now specified in the language of the standard, and metrics for what CAA expects of the graduate program and of its students are reflected in the Requirements for Review. Further, the CAA expects that activities run throughout the academic and clinical education components of the program.

What has changed?

Many of the elements now presented under Standard 3.4A and 3.4B Diversity in the Curriculum had been identified under Standard 3.1A Overall Curriculum Sufficiency for Audiology and Standard 3.1B Overall Curriculum Sufficiency for Speech-Language Pathology as professional practice competencies for cultural competence. The CAA saw a clear and urgent need to revamp this entire section of competencies and to create a comprehensive standard that better outlines the expectations for DEI in graduate education. Aspects of cultural competence, cultural humility, and cultural responsiveness are addressed in the revised Standard 3.4A and 3.4B. Establishing these concepts in a more comprehensive standard—including expectations that programs are to continually assess their own biases—provides programs clarification on CAA’s expectations regarding DEI and the cultural competence of not just the students but of the program itself.

Programs must show that they are providing opportunities for how DEI is incorporated throughout the academic and clinical program, in theory and in practice. This includes how students have opportunities within the program to (a) identify and acknowledge approaches to addressing culture and language in service delivery; (b) assessing impact of both implicit and explicit bias; (c) examining the impact and intersection of their personal biases with cultural, linguistic, and environmental variables of clients/caregivers, including among d/Deaf and hard of hearing individuals; and (d) fostering awareness and use of all languages to support the needs to of the clients served.

What are the ways that a program can document what it is doing to support this standard?

The CAA now asks programs to describe how they address each of the requirements for review in the narrative section of the applications and annual reports. The accreditation standards are written in broad terms to provide the graduate program flexibility in ways to meet the standard that are suitable for the diverse needs of their students. Although the CAA is not prescriptive in stating specifically how a program must meet each standard, the CAA developed guidelines to support programs in their efforts to document compliance with the Standard 3.4A and 3.4B revisions.

The items below represent examples of program activities, student experiences, and assignments that could be suitable for documentation.

1) Demonstrated quadrangulation of student performance between student, academic faculty, and clinical educators

  • Self-reflection from students: How are they seeing the application of the knowledge learned in the classroom? How has their knowledge been applied to clinical instances of access to care, treatment/ follow-up opportunities? Access to interpreters? ? Cultural needs related to end of life and feeding?
  • Academic instructors: Has the student acquired the requisite knowledge? How was it assessed?
  • On-campus clinical instructors: Is the student demonstrating the integration of knowledge into their clinical practice?
  • External clinical instructors or other professionals with whom the student has worked: Is the student demonstrating the integration of knowledge into their clinical practice?
  • Exit interviews

2) Student assignments: Inclusion of a didactic component to coursework to demonstrate how the students integrate information and how they are using it in their clinical experiences.

3) Grand Round series with students: How are students incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion into case presentations? Into their clinical decision making?

4) Capstone projects.

5) Programmatic data analysis: Is there an opportunity for clinical supervisors to record how clients from different backgrounds are being approached?

6) Programmatic self-reflection: What did the programs do differently to ensure that there are opportunities for students to identify and acknowledge approaches to addressing culture and language that include cultural humility, cultural responsiveness, and cultural competence in service delivery? How does the program ensure that students are aware of diverse backgrounds, preferences, experience, and how this affects clinical decision making? How are programs ensuring that students approach clinical decision making with a mindset of openness, curiosity, and the ability to honor each individual’s background?

7) Didactic changes: Programs can reflect on modifications to course syllabi to demonstrate how they are exposing their students to this information.

8) Recruiting practices and student retention: Programs can provide data around student recruitment/retention as well as written documentation about how recruitment practices reflect DEI sensitivity.

9) Clinical populations: Programs can provide evidence of DEI in their client/patient populations for on-campus clinical activities.

10) Workshops and learning opportunities for students and staff: Programs can provide evidence of faculty/staff and student attendance at focused workshops or other learning opportunities provided on DEI topics

11) Teaching materials: Programs can provide (a) standardized testing materials on topics such as for diverse populations, disease rates, opportunities to learn about disparities in healthcare; and (b) how the students are demonstrating the information.


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About ASHA

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for members and affiliates who are audiologists, speech-language pathologists, speech, language, and hearing scientists, audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel, and students.

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About the CAA

The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) accredits eligible clinical doctoral programs in audiology and master's degree programs in speech-language pathology. The CAA relies on a dedicated corps of volunteers serving as Council members and site visitors to accomplish the work of the accreditation program.

Contact the CAA

Questions and/or requests for information about accreditation or the CAA can be directed to:

The Council on Academic Accreditation in
Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard, #310
Rockville, MD 20850


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