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What is it? 

"CSD Studies is FOR EVERYONE" aims to continually foster the efforts of the Department of Communication Science and Disorders to embrace and represent all people and their wide range of experiences, backgrounds and perspectives.

We want our Department to continue to reflect the inherent and equal value of all people, and we embrace our role of preparing the next generation of audiologists and speech-language pathologists to be comprised of and ready to care for people of all abilities, religions, marital statuses, familial statuses, sexes, ages, sexual orientations, veteran statuses, national origins, ancestries, races, colors, genetic information, gender identities and expressions and socioeconomic statuses. 

We hope this initiative will have many positive impacts, especially providing care for disadvantaged and vulnerable populations while supporting any members of those populations who pursue the goal of practicing as speech and hearing scientists.

This initiative aligns with:

students in audiology booth

The Plan:

This three-part plan allows us to share what we are doing and how we plan to continue to disrupt the barriers to:

  • Diversifying the identities among practicing audiologists and speech-language pathologists.
  • Maintaining and advancing the climate of inclusivity among the students, staff and faculty of our department.
  • Preparing audiologists and speech-language pathologists to be ready for and embrace the opportunity to care for patients of all identities, experiences, backgrounds and perspectives.

1. Communicate Our Strengths

  • Assistant Professor Leah Helou is leading an initiative titled “Forging a field of allies in Communication Science and Disorders."
    • This project hopes to redefine the ethos of our department to explicitly promote equity, justice and inclusion in the field.
    • Our CSD programs are among the top in the nation, training future audiologists and speech-language pathologists; recruiting a more diverse student pool is every program’s hopeful approach.
    • We also want to tap into the latent power of a field of potential allies. We seek to revise the curricula and experiential opportunities across our five degree programs to train graduates to practice and promote cultural humility and a culture of alliance, and to center and amplify the voices of all minoritized patients.
    • Department Chair Bernard Rousseau is partnering with colleagues at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and Hampton University (Hampton) to develop the IMPACT program (Innovative Mentoring & Professional Advancement Through Cultural Training). The IMPACT program will support diverse students’ acceptance into top graduate programs for SLP and audiology and build future leaders who understand and embody inclusion, diversity and compassion.
      • Hampton, located in Hampton, VA, is ranked fourth across all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and has the oldest established Communication Sciences and Disorders program at an HBCU in the country.
      • Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), located in Cleveland, OH, is one of the nation’s top research universities and is ranked first in the state of Ohio.
      • In collaboration with Hampton and CWRU, Pitt CSD will provide research training experiences to students in the program. IMPACT students will participate in a cultural empathy book club, complete CITI training for research participation, attend 12 virtual activities including tours of the CSD program at the University of Pittsburgh and Boys Town National Research Hospital, submit a proposal for a poster presentation for the 2021 ASHA Convention, contribute to an IMPACT Instagram account and prepare graduate school application essays. Six of the 12 virtual activities include “Family Dinners” in there will be two invited CSD professionals joining the IMPACT student cohort for dinner. Dinner will be delivered to every participant’s home and the meeting will be via Zoom.

Bernie Rousseau advising researcher

2. Strengthen Our Partnerships

  • We're implementing University resources to support efforts and events aimed at advancing diversity and inclusion in our Department.

faculty mentoring students in slp

3. Advance Our Efforts

  • Our goal is to spread this initiative across SHRS and beyond.

  • We are analyzing and refining our admissions process to minimize biases and continue to ensure equal opportunities for all applicants.

  • We're teaming with community organizations in Pittsburgh to foster interest in and understanding of the CSD profession, especially among disadvantaged children and adolescents.
  • ​We're seeking new ways to further the “CSD Studies is FOR EVERYONE” initiative and continually reinforce the inclusive environment of our Department.
  • We acknowledge and want to broaden the diversity of abilities, religions, marital statuses, familial statuses, sexes, ages, sexual orientations, veteran statuses, national origins, ancestries, races, colors, genetic information, gender identities and expressions and socioeconomic statuses among CSD students and practicing audiologists and speech-language pathologists.
  • CSD is proud of its partnership with the DePaul School for Hearing and Speech, located in Shadyside and serving children with hearing impairment from birth through eighth grade. DePaul School, which has served students since 1908, has three programs: early intervention, preschool and elementary school. The approved private school teaches about 60 students, who are deaf or hard of hearing, to listen and speak orally. It is the only Listening and Spoken Language school in the western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia tri-state area.
    • One of the goals of our partnership with the DePaul School for Hearing and Speech is to promote communicative, gender and racial diversity. Specifically, we envision the co-hosting of community events with the DePaul School for Hearing and Speech that will create direct equity-and-justice training opportunities for CSD students
  • We will build on our existing relationships with community partners concerned with eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities (DePaul School for Hearing and Speech), supporting gender diversity (TransBuddy PGH) and centering community voices (University of Pittsburgh Community Engagement Center at Homewood).

kids from DePaul School

Photo: Children at the DePaul School for Hearing and Speech (courtesy of DePaul School for Hearing and Speech).