Educational Accessibility Policy for Students with Accented English

Rationale

The ability to speak and to understand speech is a necessary requirement to enter the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology. In order to work effectively with English-speaking clients, practitioners must also be able to correctly perceive and demonstrate the full range of English-language sounds and sound sequences. This policy was established to ensure successful participation in the clinical aspects of each of these graduate programs.

Issue

  • Students with accented English
  • Students with speech and/or language and/or hearing difficulties

Additional categories students might belong to:

  • Native speakers of an English dialect that differs markedly from Standard American English
  • Students with congenital motor problems
  • Students who were diagnosed with speech and/or language problems and who continue to exhibit those problems

Policy

In clinical settings, students must be able to function at or near native-speaker level and have functional hearing at normal conversational levels either with or without the use of aids in terms of:

  • Ability to correctly demonstrate the speech sounds of Standard American English
  • Ability to correctly perceive and transcribe the speech sounds of Standard American English
  • Ability to understand clients whose speech is disordered
  • Ability to communicate with clients whose perception or cognition is impaired

Evaluation procedures

Mechanism for evaluation

  • A brief screening procedure of all graduate students' speech and hearing will be completed by current M.A. students under the supervision of the clinic director for speech-language pathology. Speech recordings will be distributed for review and ratings by faculty members. The graduate students will already be admitted to the graduate program, and the outcome of the screening will not affect the admission or possible graduation status of any student
  • If a student does not meet requirements, he or she will be referred to the appropriate faculty member(s) for remediation

Phonetic environments

Students must be able to correctly produce the sounds of English in the following phonetic environments.

  • Vowels and continuant consonants in isolation
  • CV or CVC words or nonsense syllables presented as IPA (international phonetic alphabet) transcriptions
  • Single- and multi-syllable words presented in English orthography
  • Consonants in phonotactically legal clusters of English, in real or nonsense words

Phonotactic constraints and/or phonological rules

Students must be able to correctly pronounce words that may violate the phonotactic constraints and/or phonological rules of their native language or dialect.

For example:

  • Produce the word strike without inserting vowels between consonants, to break up the word-initial cluster and without adding a word-initial vowel
  • Produce words like back and dogs without dropping consonants, without converting the final cluster to a sound such as glottal stop, and without changing the voicing, place or manner of the consonants in the cluster

Using the IPA (international phonetic alphabet)

Students must be able to transcribe English words using the IPA both when the words are pronounced correctly and when they are pronounced incorrectly.

  • When words are pronounced incorrectly, students must be able to identify the location(s) of the error(s) and produce the correct sound(s) in isolation and in word context

  • Students must be able to come up with minimal pairs to demonstrate sound differences

Students must be able to listen to sentences produced by disordered speakers who are intelligible to native speakers of English, and transcribe what was said.