Language and culture in speech-language and hearing professions in South Africa: The dangers of a single story.S Afr J Commun Disord 2018; 65(1):e1-e7SA
Speech-language and hearing (SLH) professions in South Africa are facing significant challenges in the provision of clinical services to patients with communication disorders from a context that is culturally and linguistically diverse because of historic exclusions of black and African language speaking candidates in higher education training programmes. Over 20 years post the democratic dispensation, minimal changes have been noted in terms of the training, research as well as clinical service provision in these professions, although the demographic profile of students is seen to be transforming gradually. Objectives: We offer this viewpoint publication as a challenge to the professions to interrogate their academic and clinical orientation in respect of African contextual relevance and responsiveness. Method: We do this by identifying gaps within the higher education context, highlighting the influencing factors to the provision of linguistically and culturally appropriate SLH training and clinical services in South Africa, while asking questions about what SLH students and practitioners need to carefully consider. Results: We make recommendations about what needs to happen within the SLH professions in South Africa in order to stay safe from the dangers of a single story. Conclusion: We invite debate in order to allow for constructive engagement with this complex issue within the South African SLH professions.