University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
The department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at the University of Minnesota offers graduate degrees in audiology and speech-language pathology.

Preparing Students to Provide Responsive Services in Diverse Populations

Initiative Category


Focus Areas

  • Cultural Responsiveness
  • Dialect
  • Gender
  • Multilingualism
  • Neurodiversity
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Religion/Faith based practice/spirituality
  • Socioeconomic status


Recognizing the need for future audiologists and speech-language to recognize and respond to relevant aspects of diversity across clinical populations, we implemented mandatory training activities for all students in our AUD and MA-SLP programs. These activities were formalized into a course, SLHS 8500: Preparing to provide responsive speech-language and hearing services in diverse populations. The learning objectives of this course are:

  1. Describe multiple dimensions of client identity that impact audiology and speech-language pathology services, including factors related to ability, culture, gender and sexuality, linguistic experiences, and race and privilege.
  2. Recognize personal biases related to these same dimensions of client identity and develop strategies for managing personal biases in clinical practice.
  3. Identify and critically evaluate their approaches to addressing ability, culture, gender and sexuality, linguistic experiences, and race and privilege in clinical practice.
  4. Engage in meaningful learning activities that deepen knowledge and understanding of groups that are unfamiliar to the student.

To complete the course, students participate in a series of asynchronous training modules, which include information as well as applications such as self-reflections and case studies. Students must also put together a portfolio of activities demonstrating that they have built knowledge and skills related to different aspects of client diversity, and they must also submit clinical reflections related to the implementation of responsive services.

Within the same initiative, we also revised our Bilingual/Multicultural Emphasis Program. This program was intended to allow a flexible area of specialization related to bilingualism or multiculturalism; however, we recognized increasing student interest in other aspects of diversity, such as gender diversity and neurodiversity. Therefore, the Diversity in Communication Specialty Program (DCS) was created as an optional addition to the new SLHS 8500 course. The DCS allows students to go beyond the broad competencies of the required course, developing in-depth knowledge and skills within a specific diversity-related area of interest. Students define their area of specialization and complete additional learning activities to build knowledge and skills in this area. They are also required to create at least one lasting product to share their learning with others.

For More Information

See the SLHS 8500 course syllabus [PDF] or contact Kerry Ebert at

This initiative was submitted on May 1, 2024.

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