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    Stitching a new garment: considering the future of the speech–language therapy profession globally

    Staley, Bea, Fernandes, Marise, Hickey, Ellen, Barrett, Helen, Wylie, Karen, Marshall, Julie ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8860-2951, Pillay, Mershen, Kathard, Harsha, Sowden, Ryann, Rochus, David, Westby, Carol E, Roman, T Rosario and Hartley, Sally D (2022) Stitching a new garment: considering the future of the speech–language therapy profession globally. South African Journal of Communication Disorders, 69 (1). a932. ISSN 0379-8046

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    Abstract

    Providing equitable support for people experiencing communication disability (CD) globally is a historical and contemporary challenge for the speech–language therapy profession. A group of speech–language therapists (SLTs) with ongoing and sustained experiences in Majority and Minority World contexts participated in five virtual meetings in 2021. The aim of these meetings was to develop provocative statements that might spur a global discussion among individuals and organisations that support people experiencing CD. The following questions were discussed: What is our vision for the future of the profession globally? What are the global challenges around access to speech–language therapy services? Four main themes emerged: (1) the need to centre people experiencing CD as the focal point of services, (2) participation, (3) equity and (4) community. The themes relate to the need for a process of de-imperialism in the profession. Suggestions were made to develop more suitable terminology and to establish a global framework that promotes more equitable access to communication services. We seek the adoption of approaches that focus on reciprocal global engagement for capacity strengthening. Alternative models of culturally sustaining and equitable service delivery are needed to create impact for people experiencing CD, and their families worldwide. Contribution: Provocative statements were developed to prompt global conversations among speech–language therapy professionals and associations. We encourage readers to consider the questions posed, share their viewpoints and initiate positive change towards a global strategy.

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