Home Advocacy New Legislation Would Boost Diversity in the Professions

New Legislation Would Boost Diversity in the Professions

by Michelle Mannebach
Happy diverse people hugging each other in the park

Congressional representatives introduced a new act to increase workforce diversity in audiology and speech-language pathology—an initiative that supports ASHA’s ongoing commitment to this goal in its Strategic Objective #6: Increase the Diversity of Membership.

Last week, U.S. Representatives Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2019 (H.R. 3637) in the House of Representatives. It was included as an amendment to H.R. 2781, a bill that reauthorizes several health care workforce programs of the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee’s subcommittee on Health.

Today, H.R. 2781, which incorporates the text from H.R. 3637 as Section 5, passed the full E&C Committee. The legislation would provide grants to audiology and speech-language pathology programs to fund:

  • Scholarships and stipends to eligible people, including for degree completion or preparatory coursework.
  • Efforts to increase the retention of students in such programs.

Eligible students that the programs can support include:

  • Members of a class of persons who are underrepresented in the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology (including those who are racial or ethnic minorities, or are from disadvantaged backgrounds).
  • Those that have a financial need for a scholarship or stipend.
  • Students enrolled (or accepted for enrollment) at an audiology or speech-language pathology program as a full-time student at an eligible entity (accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology).

As ASHA celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Office of Multicultural Affairs and the continued progress of Strategic Objective #6, the association is pleased to have this legislation introduced. ASHA aims to see membership diversity grow at the same rate as the diversity of the U.S. population, and the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act advances this goal.

Get Involved! Take action to let your members of Congress know the importance of this bill for the professions.

Michelle Mannebach, MBA, is director of advocacy communications and administration. mmannebach@asha.org

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