Disappointment with Q&A Session at ASHA 2019

Dear board,

The only words I have to describe the ASHA Leadership Q & A 23 November from 12:30 to 2:00 is disappointment and dissatisfaction. Who had the talk time in that session? ASHA leadership did. The members were left to sit and listen to long answers that often did not address the question asked. The questions were filtered by ASHA leadership who controlled what topics were brought forward and for how long. There was no chance for follow-up by the members to the questions they asked; and, the questions were summarized not presented in their entirety. At the SIG 12 meeting, we were encouraged to attend this BOD listening session because the board wanted to hear from us. We went; we were not heard.Regarding AAC speciality certification, several people in the room had questions which were consolidated and resulted in two responses. One by CFCC which did not delineate the next steps and another by the certification chair who provided misinformation. I will address the inaccuracies here. It was stated that the group that opposes speciality certification is a “small group that wants to change the procedure after the fact.” This is not the case. We are a quite large group including the the United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication and the National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities. We have published our names publicly in an effort at full disclosure. A quick look down this list will reveal that those opposing specialty certification are among the most prolific educators and researchers in the field of AAC. We are not small. Secondly, we do not seek to change the process. The group is asking for due process. That is, we wish to have an accounting of the votes, the dates of those votes, the data, and the timeline of AAC speciality certification. We are trying to ascertain the validity of the data used and the methodology for gathering the data. Bad data is not better than no data.One foundational principle of listening is having an open mind to what the speaker is saying. This certainly was not demonstrated in the responses provided at the 23 November meeting. There was a great deal of frustration in the room not only around AAC specialization but other topics. In this AAC certification process, we have continually received answers that did not consider the question, and which did not demonstrate an open mind. Instead, we have received form letter responses. In today’s society, ASHA needs to be nimble and responsive to the needs of its members. Social media and the connectedness of society is changing the way people get information, disseminate information, and effect change. ASHA would do well to “listen” to its members without using 20th-century responses to 21st-century advocacy. We are advocating; we are civil; we are working hard for our patients about whom we feel passionately —we do not feel heard. I am writing to express my disappointment in the process.

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