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Do speech pathologists work with deaf people? If so, are they required to learn sign language?

I am wondering because I read somewhere online that there is 2 types of speech pathologist, one that deals with deaf peoplem and one that doesn't. #medicine #professor #health #speech-pathology #pathologist #speech

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T.’s Answer

You have an interesting question. While there are speech language pathologists that specialize in the Deaf community including aural rehabilitation and sign language, there is not simply 2 different kinds of speech language pathologists. We are trained and become certified as professionals in 9 main competency areas including swallowing physiology, alternative and augmentative communication/modalities, expressive language, cognition, resonance and voice, fluency, pragmatics, articulation, language comprehension. This does not include our training in that also involves specialties in accent reduction, reading comprehension, construction and visuospatial reasoning for writing, etc. We have a myriad of things covered in the field and are not simply just 2 types.


A speech language pathologist learning "sign language" does not mean they will be able to communicate with every Deaf community individual they come across. There are dialects across the nation. The sign language I learned in New York was American Sign Language. I met members of the Deaf community who used an Alabama-slang sign language dialect. The sign language I saw in Mexico was totally different from ASL. I met students at a Deaf preschool in New Orleans who spoke English Sign Language. The Sign language spoken in Brazil is completely different. So even within the Deaf community there is a huge subculture of rich contextual languages varying in sign. You may come across a trilingual Deaf professional who is fluent in three different languages of sign. We would never know it if we are not taught that there are different sign languages.


Thank you for your interest in the field. It is truly a dynamic gem!

Thank you comment icon Hi there! I have an input/concern about this thread! I've studied ASL all through college (I'm a senior now), originally double majoring in it and speech pathology-now just majoring in speech path and minoring in ASL. I desperately want to incorporate ASL into becoming an SLP, but I've had professors tell me it's impossible/too rare to make a carer out of. My question is: is it really impossible? What can I do to be able to to both in the future? I've been told to just say that I'm "deaf friendly" to patients, but what area of SLP would that fall into? My original thought was to offer ASL or relearning spoken speech to those who lose it from trauma, but that's where I was told it wasn't 'a thing'. Does anyone have any input or advice? Thanks! Miranda
Thank you comment icon Hi Miranda! I recommend posting your comment as a question on the site so that every professional can see it/get notified of it and weigh in. Good luck! Lindsey Manning-Djabbari BACKER
Thank you comment icon Will Do! Thank you! Miranda
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Heather’s Answer

Hello!!


Speech Pathologist do work with Deaf People, but they also work with others who have speech problems such as if they had a trauma where he or she needed to learn to speak again, or someone who has a stutter.


I am a STRONG advocate for learning American Sign Language. It will put you ahead of the curve. It is always beneficial to learn a second language, however, no it is not required to learn unless you want to work strictly with Deaf people then most will require because it will make the communication a lot more efficient and easier.

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