A Capitol Celebration: NBASLH Marks 30th Anniversary With Advocacy The National Black Association of Speech-Language and Hearing (NBASLH) marked its 30th anniversary with a full day of advocacy April 17 on Capitol Hill, reflecting the group’s commitment to the professions and to issues related to serving individuals with communication differences and/or disorders from underserved populations. After their day of ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   May 01, 2008
A Capitol Celebration: NBASLH Marks 30th Anniversary With Advocacy
Author Notes
  • Stefanie Reeves, director of political advocacy, can be reached at sreeves@asha.org.
    Stefanie Reeves, director of political advocacy, can be reached at sreeves@asha.org.×
  • Karen Beverly-Ducker, director of multicultural resources, can be reached at kbeverlyducker@asha.org.
    Karen Beverly-Ducker, director of multicultural resources, can be reached at kbeverlyducker@asha.org.×
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Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   May 01, 2008
A Capitol Celebration: NBASLH Marks 30th Anniversary With Advocacy
The ASHA Leader, May 2008, Vol. 13, 1-7. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.13072008.1
The ASHA Leader, May 2008, Vol. 13, 1-7. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.13072008.1
The National Black Association of Speech-Language and Hearing (NBASLH) marked its 30th anniversary with a full day of advocacy April 17 on Capitol Hill, reflecting the group’s commitment to the professions and to issues related to serving individuals with communication differences and/or disorders from underserved populations. After their day of lobbying, members gathered in Crystal City, Virginia, for the annual NBASLH Convention.
The advocacy day began with a breakfast with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). NBASLH members heard from House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC). “It is a fundamental human right that all Americans have the resources they need to be contributing members to our society,” he said. He commended ASHA and NBASLH for their advocacy work to improve communities and advance society.
“I am especially glad that groups such as NBASLH are working to address the serious disparity that must be addressed in this country in terms of the health care and professional services made available and accessible to people of color,” he said.
“NBASLH and ASHA working together as a unit is a great example of how many can come together to present one strong voice,” said Tommie Robinson, former ASHA Board member, who offered opening remarks. “We will show Congress that we are serious when it comes to advocacy.”
NBASLH Chair Cathy Runnels welcomed her colleagues to Capitol Hill and talked about the exciting task in front of them. “The Hill experience is one of the highlights of our convention,” she said.
ASHA’s government relations and public policy staff helped NBASLH participants schedule meetings with their senators and congressional representatives in advance of the convention. In a legislative briefing following breakfast, participants learned how to make a Hill visit and reviewed the legislation for which they would be advocating: allowing speech-language pathologists to bill Medicare from a private practice, and student loan forgiveness for audiologists and SLPs who work in economically disadvantaged schools.
CBC represents the 42 African American members of Congress, all of whom are Democrats. In addition to Clyburn, CBC members in attendance included John Conyers of Michigan, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Donna Christian-Christenson of the Virgin Islands, chair of the CBC Health Care Brain Trust.
The three members of Congress applauded NBASLH and ASHA for coming to the Hill to advocate and encouraged the group to work with them to address health disparities within underserved populations. Staff from the offices of Reps. Chaka Fattah (PA), Barbara Lee (CA), Laura Richardson (CA), and Shelia Jackson-Lee (TX) were also in attendance.
“Seeing so many speech and language professionals advocate for the people they serve showed me and colleagues how important it is that we make your services accessible to all who need them,” Conyers said. “Thank you all for the hard work you do and the opportunity to meet with so many committed members of your profession.”
Building for the Future
The advocacy efforts reinforced the convention theme “Acknowledge the Past, Impact the Future.” At the convention’s opening, Runnels tied the theme to the Akan word from Ghana, “sankofa,” symbolized by a bird with its head reversed, taking an egg from its back.
“The concept implies that in order to make progress, we must build from what is good from the past,” she said.
At the convention, photographs of founding members and contributors through the years were on display in each of the session rooms, symbolizing the theme of building from the past.
The opening session included remarks prepared by Orlando Taylor, dean of the graduate school of Howard University. Taylor was unable to attend because of a work-related emergency; his comments were read by Travis Threats.
A panel consisting of NBASLH “legends” Njeri Nuru Holm, Kay Payne, Harold Powell, and Ida Stockman responded to two questions: “Why do we still need NBASLH?” and “Is Bill Cosby Wrong? The Dumbing Down of Oral Language.” Audience participants were invited to respond. The session concluded with a “legend-to-legacy baton pass,” when each panelist identified a student in the audience, and presented the student with written comments and a charge to continue on.
Convention Chair Iris Johnson-Arnold coordinated a program that included more than 100 short courses, mini-seminars, and technical sessions, a doctoral research forum, master’s research forums, and scholar-to-scholar poster sessions.
The Student Mentor Luncheon included the opportunity for the NBASLH scholarship winner Andi Toliver-Smith to present her research. During the luncheon, mentors shared with students their tips for facing professional conflict.
The 2008 Communication Excellence Award was presented to LeeLinda Parker, a computer scientist at the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland, whose research involves “the development of a prototype that will aid the detection of both human and acoustic sensors by those operating unmanned aircraft vehicles and or machinery.” Other awards included the Scholar Mentor Award (Michele Norman, Longwood University) and the William Simpkins Award (Constance Qualls).
Convention attendees were invited to a reception and tour of the ASHA National Office on Saturday night. The convention concluded with a brunch on Sunday morning. The 2009 convention will be held April 16–18 in Atlanta, Georgia.
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May 2008
Volume 13, Issue 7