Beyond lip service: Towards human rights-driven guidelines for South African speech-language pathologists

Michelle Pascoe*, Daleen Klop, Thandeka Mdlalo, Mikateko Ndhambi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Developed with a strong awareness of past injustices, South Africa’s progressive constitution emphasises a full spectrum of human rights. While the constitution celebrates many languages and cultures, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) face challenges in translating these values into practice with a diverse clientele. Similarly, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights focuses on freedom of expression in one’s language of choice, but is often perceived as a “Cinderella” right (i.e. one that is frequently neglected). This paper presents a literature review undertaken in association with the Health Professions Council of South Africa to produce guidelines to support SLPs in their practice with diverse linguistic and cultural groups. The aim was to identify key points for inclusion in a set of human rights-driven guidelines. Specific objectives were to critique: (1) current guidelines for SLPs working with diverse cultural and linguistic groups; and (2) equivalent guidelines for related professions. Content analysis of the datasets revealed key themes which formed the basis of an initial skeleton, to be further developed through a consultative process and discussion, ultimately aiming to provide supportive, practical guidelines to better equip South African SLPs to serve all the people of the country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018


  • Article 19
  • United Nations
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • guideline development
  • linguistic and cultural diversity


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