Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Kristy Weissling

Second Advisor

Sue Kemp

Third Advisor

Matthew Lambert

Date of this Version

Summer 7-2021


Williams, E. M. (2021). Understanding the needs and knowledge base of developing speech-language pathology programs: A preliminary mixed methods survey in the United States [Master’s thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln]. Digital Commons at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Under the Supervision of Professor Kristy Weissling. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2021

Copyright © 2021 Elaine M. Williams


The field of speech-language pathology provides important rehabilitation services for communication and swallowing disorders. Unfortunately, these services are lacking around the world, specifically in Majority countries, formally known as third world countries. This is significant given the high proportion of people with disabilities in Majority countries. While speech-language pathology services are actively being introduced to these areas, it is often with the inappropriate transfer of Minority world values. In an effort to provide a less biased and more formal approach to collaborating with countries requesting help to establish speech-language pathology services, the author of this thesis is proposing a process to comprehensively assess self-perceived areas of needs which includes: 1) develop a framework, 2) create a tool, 3) identify future directions. The process described above was modeled with SLPs in the United States as a preliminary measure of validity to assess if Minority countries, formally known as first world countries, are adhering to the same global standards they place on Majority countries. As an initial step in the process, global assessment standards were gathered from 39 international Minority world speech-language pathology organizations and coupled with the Communication Disability Model (CDM) to create a survey tool (Hartley & Wirtz, 2002). The results indicated that the SLPs sampled from the United States are not equally addressing each branch of the CDM (i.e., impairment, range of function, social factors, environmental factors). Different demographic groups (e.g., years of experience, work setting) also identified varying needs which could be used to direct specific support in the future, potentially increasing CDM alignment. These results suggest that, although having global standards may seem ideal for consistency of care around the world, those standards may not even be realized in Minority countries where there are already well-established speech-language pathology services. For this reason, Minority world countries should not have the expectation that each CDM area will or should be addressed 100% of the time when collaborating with Majority world countries. In the future, the survey tool may be used to drive individualized support for countries seeking to provide quality communication services within their distinct cultural values.

Advisor: Kristy Weissling