A young mother and new immigrant to the United States was alarmed. Her 2-year-old son was not yet speaking. Luckily, her pediatrician referred her to early intervention services, which connected her with a bilingual Mandarin/English-speaking speech-language pathologist.
This SLP also belonged to ASHA’s Asian Pacific Islander Speech-Language-Hearing Caucus (API Caucus). The SLP worked with this child for a year, taking care to integrate and adapt treatment activities to the routines and language practices of the family. As the child made gains, the SLP also interpreted, translated and facilitated on behalf of the client’s family and educational team during the boy’s transition to preschool. Later, our colleague volunteered to advocate for this family during a housing crisis.
Volunteering to serve clients above and beyond professional duties is often the norm for members of the API Caucus.
What exactly is the API Caucus?
The term Asian and Pacific Islanders includes all people of Asian (East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian), Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander heritage.
The field of speech-language pathology was once unknown to most people in the API communities. In 1985, Lilly Li-Rong Cheng led a small group of ASHA-certified API professionals to hold the first meeting of the API caucus at the ASHA National Office, and we have been meeting ever since.
Our mission is to make connections, share common concerns, educate, mentor and advocate for quality speech, language and hearing services for API communities.
How can you get involved with the API Caucus?
We offer free membership to all students and professionals with an interest in promoting speech, language and hearing health in API communities, regardless of background.
- Visit the API Caucus website at apislhc.com.
- Join our vibrant API Caucus Facebook Group.
- View the API Caucus Youtube channel.
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The API Caucus aims to address the disparity between the number of speech-language-hearing professionals with relevant cultural/linguistic knowledge and those in the API communities who need their services. For example, people of API descent represent 22 million of our country’s population, but only 5,575 of ASHA members—a 1 to 4,000 ratio.
The API Caucus is collaborating with the Asian Indian Caucus to conduct an online survey of API students and professionals in the speech-language-hearing sciences. We hope to use results of this survey to better inform future recruitment and retention of API professionals.
Help us spread the word by taking the short survey today!
Our other ongoing efforts include:
- Providing referrals for audiologists and SLPs with particular cultural/linguistic expertise.
- Gathering relevant resources, information, research and materials for members to easily access.
- Creating connections among colleagues with shared interests in serving the API community.
- Fundraising to generate scholarships and grants for API Caucus members to enhance their skills.
The API Caucus continually strives to better serve you and our diverse communities. Join us and let us know how we can help!
Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a series covering all six of ASHA’s Multicultural Constituency Groups.
Betty Yu, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education & Communicative Disorders at San Francisco State University, and president of the Asian Pacific Islander Speech-Language-Hearing Caucus.
Contributing writers: Elizabeth Chafcouloff, MA, CCC-SLP, treasurer, API Caucus, and president, Speech Therapy Cambodia; Greta Tan, MA, CCC-SLP, former president, API Caucus, San Jose, California; Teresa Girolamo, co-secretary, API Caucus, and doctoral candidate, University of Kansas; and Kenneth Tom, PhD, CCC-SLP, former president, API Caucus, and associate professor emeritus, California State University, Fullerton.