Monthly Archive

Focus on Bilingualism: What is Clinical Cultural Competence?

By:  Alejandro E. Brice, Ph.D.,CCC-SLP, Ellen Kester, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, and Roanne Brice, Ph.D., CCC-SLP


Previous Viewpoint
The idea for this column comes to me via the courtesy of the ASHA Multicultural Issues Board.  I am the Chair of this committee for the period of 2012-2014.  During our last face-to-face meeting, we had a long discussion of defining cultural competence? ASHA (2008) defined cultural competence as valuing diversity, conducting cultural self-awareness,  being knowledgeable of how cultures interact, having institutional cultural knowledge, and adapting oneself to the diversity and cultural context of the cultures that one serves as a SLP or audiologist (ASHA Multicultural Issues Board, 2008).  This definition typically invokes the concept of my culture versus the client’s culture (e.g., Latino/a, Asian-American, African-American, Native American, Pacific Islander, etc).  Even if one assumes cultural definitions of Individualistic vs. Collectivistic cultures (Gudykunst, 1991; Ting-Toomey, 1994; Triandis, 1995); one is still confronted with a duality classification system.

Paradigm Shift
Is it time to change our perspective and definition of culture? We would like to thank Vicki R. Deal Williams (ASHA, Chief Staff Officer for ASHA Multicultural Affairs) and Karen Beverly-Ducker (ASHA Director of Multicultural Resources) for their insight into providing a paradigm shift in our perspective of culture.

Deal-Williams stated that cultural competence is clinical competence and clinical competence is cultural competence.  This translates to mean that one’s cultural abilities must address everyone clinically and that one’s clinical abilities must encompass everyone culturally. In essence, the two are the same and interchangeable

Beverly-Ducker stated that cultural competence is achieved when a difference does not make a difference.  In other words, clients from various cultures do not preclude one from providing appropriate clinical services. The noted differences are addressed in the overall picture of who our clients are.   For example, males in the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology constitute a minority membership.  However, one’s gender in the professions does not affect one’s provision of services; hence, a gender difference does not make a quality or quantity difference as speech-language pathologists and audiologists.  The quality of research, teaching, and clinical provisions is not affected by this difference.


Everyone possesses an unique cultural mosaic made up of different attributes.  Whether, one is collectivistic or individualistic; polychronic or monochronic; displays an internal vs. external locus of control; is male or female; is young, middle age, or old age; is from low, medium, or high SES; is short or tall, does not matter. Our cultural mosaic makes us culturally unique.  No two Latinos/as will be the same.  As clinicians we need to realize the rich mosaic tapestry of who we are and this is how culture should be viewed for everyone and not just for certain ethnically diverse individuals.  In sum, cultural and linguistic diversity applies to everyone.



ASHA Multicultural Issues Board. (2008).  Cultural competence in professional         service delivery.  Available August 28, 2012 from

Gudykunst, W .B. (1991). Bridging differences. Effective intergroup communication.

Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Ting-Toomey, S.  (1994). Managing intercultural conflicts effectively. In L. A. Samovar

& R. E. Porter (Eds.), Intercultural communication. A reader (7th ed.), (pp. 360-72).

Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

Triandis, H.  (1995). Individualism and collectivism. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

This Month’s Featured Authors:

Alejandro Brice, Ph.D., CCC-SLP University of South Florida St. Petersburg
Ellen Kester, Ph.D., CCC-SLP Bilinguistics, Inc.
Roanne Brice, Ph.D., CCC-SLP University of Central Florida

Dr. Alejandro E. Brice is an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg in Secondary/ESOL Education. His research has focused on issues of transference or interference between two languages in the areas of phonetics, phonology, semantics, and pragmatics related to speech-language pathology. In addition, his clinical expertise relates to the appropriate assessment and treatment of Spanish-English speaking students and clients. Please visit his website at or reach him by email at [email protected]

Dr. Ellen Kester is a Founder and President of Bilinquistics, Inc. She earned her Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from The University of Texas at Austin. She earned her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish at The University of Texas at Austin. She has provided bilingual Spanish/English speech-language services in schools, hospitals, and early intervention settings. Her research focus is on the acquisition of semantic language skills in bilingual children, with emphasis on assessment practices for the bilingual population. She has performed workshops and training seminars, and has presented at conferences both nationally and internationally. Dr. Kester teaches courses in language development, assessment and intervention of language disorders, early childhood intervention, and measurement at The University of Texas at Austin. She can be reached at [email protected]

Dr. Roanne G. Brice is the Assistant to the Chair for the Department of Child, Family and Community Sciences at the University of Central Florida. Her research interests have focused on language and beginning literacy skills in bilingual children and students with disorders/disabilities. In addition to teaching at the university level, Dr. Brice has been an itinerant and self-contained classroom speech-language pathologist as well as a general education classroom teacher. She may be reached at [email protected]

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