September 29, 2014

International Society for Cultural and Activity Research Conference

This week Sarah Verdon is presenting two papers from her PhD at the International Society for Cultural and ActivityResearch Conference in Sydney.
  • Verdon, S., McLeod, S., & Wong, S. (2014, September). Using CHAT to explore speech-language pathology practices from around the world with culturally and linguistically diverse children. International Society for Cultural and Activity Research Conference, Sydney, Australia.
  • Verdon, S., McLeod, S., & Wong, S. (2014, September). Imagining new possibilities for embracing cultural and linguistic diversity in children with communication difficulties. International Society for Cultural and Activity Research Conference, Sydney, Australia.

The continued mobility of people across geographic boundaries has made the world a melting pot of people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. As a result, monolingual and monocultural approaches to supporting the needs of children with communication difficulties are not effective among diverse populations. To address this issue, the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech was assembled in 2012. Fourteen members of this panel met in Cork, Ireland to discuss future aspirations for the transformation of the speech-language pathology profession in its provision of services to children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Six hours of discussion were recorded and transcribed. Analysis of the transcribed data was undertaken using Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as heuristic framework. The individual components of CHAT (object, subject, mediating artefact, rules, community and division of labour) were considered in relation to the panel’s discussion. This analysis revealed that within each component tensions existed between what panel members imagined as the ideal enactment of speech-language pathology practice, and the current reality of service provision. The findings of this analysis reflected a need to view children holistically, by acknowledging and incorporating their individual culture and exposure to language(s) into all aspects of planning and implementing strategies to support them to prosper in the context of their daily lives. Members of the panel advocated the use of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health - Children and Youth version (ICF-CY). This framework was seen by panel members as a transformative tool which could be used to empower speech-language pathologists in their practice by facilitating consideration of the many internal and external factors that may influence children’s speech and language development. This presentation will highlight the productivity of using CHAT to identify possibilities for influencing changes to complex activity systems by identifying inhibitory processes occurring within the system and identifying means to affect these changes. In making achievable changes to everyday practices, speech-language pathologists have the potential to challenge the existing constraints of practice and influence the transformation of the profession in working towards positive outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse children.