Listening Up and Speaking Out
This June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects homosexual and transgender workers from discrimination. With this ruling, sexual orientation and gender identity were added to race, color, national origin, religion, and sex as protected classes under this law. A brief glance at social media over the last month illustrates, however, that these legal protections alone are not enough for those who are a part of these groups to feel safe and comfortable at work. In the last month, I have heard stories and seen first-hand examples of ways in which our profession upholds systemic racism, sexism, and homophobia. Like many of you, I am weary. Over the same month, however, I have seen a crush of students seeking to do the work to make our profession better for our colleagues and our patients. I have seen acts of oppression and aggression called out and corrected by my peers and it has added hope to that weariness.
During this time, many of us have looked to our professional organizations for leadership and have made clear when the response was not enough. I’m again hopeful to see plans for change emerge in response to this moment. The SAA has worked over the last year to collect data on the (lack of) diversity in our profession through the 2020 Audiology Student Census. Based upon those results and things we have heard from students over the last several years, I’m happy to announce the formation of the SAA’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. This Task Force was created by the incoming President-elect, Lily Rollins, and has four basic plans of action for the coming year:
- Host free bimonthly live-streamed webinars to provide information about the experiences of under-represented groups and how to expand audiology to better support their inclusion. These webinars will be launching points for virtual communities for each featured group.
- Use the SAA communication platforms to highlight diverse audiologists and students and share resources to promote spaces within the audiology community for these individuals and to improve cultural relevancy for all audiology students.
- Host in-person meetings for diverse audiology students during AAA 2021, creating space for students to network, share experiences, and exchange advice.
- Foster relationships with local schools, professionals, and youth organizations throughout the year through SAA chapters and in the host city of AAA 2021.
If you’re interested in getting involved or would like to contribute your ideas, please fill out this form. All responses will be kept confidential and used only for the purpose of this task force.
Thank you, students, for leading the way to a brighter future for audiology. It has been an honor to work towards this together and I look forward to joining you in these continuing efforts.
J. Riley DeBacker
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