Ethical Concerns in Voluntourism in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology There is growing interest in short-term volunteering (i.e., volunteer tourism) to contribute to the development of speech-language pathology (SLP) and audiology (AUD) in global contexts. While this is exciting, professionals and students must be properly prepared for such trips to ensure cultural safety and avoid potential ethical concerns and pitfalls ... Article
Article  |   September 01, 2012
Ethical Concerns in Voluntourism in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ellen M. Hickey
    Dalhousie University, School of Human Communication Disorders, Halifax, NS
  • Monica McKenna
    Dalhousie University, School of Human Communication Disorders, Halifax, NS
  • Celeste Woods
    Dalhousie University, School of Human Communication Disorders, Halifax, NS
  • Carmen Archibald
    Dalhousie University, School of Human Communication Disorders, Halifax, NS
  • Disclosure: Ellen M. Hickey has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.
    Disclosure: Ellen M. Hickey has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.×
  • Disclosure: Monica McKenna has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.
    Disclosure: Monica McKenna has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.×
  • Disclosure: Celeste Woods has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.
    Disclosure: Celeste Woods has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.×
  • Disclosure: Carmen Archibald has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.
    Disclosure: Carmen Archibald has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing Disorders / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Professional Issues & Training / International & Global / Articles
Article   |   September 01, 2012
Ethical Concerns in Voluntourism in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
SIG 17 Perspectives on Global Issues in Communication Sciences and Related Disorders, September 2012, Vol. 2, 40-48. doi:10.1044/gics2.2.40
SIG 17 Perspectives on Global Issues in Communication Sciences and Related Disorders, September 2012, Vol. 2, 40-48. doi:10.1044/gics2.2.40

There is growing interest in short-term volunteering (i.e., volunteer tourism) to contribute to the development of speech-language pathology (SLP) and audiology (AUD) in global contexts. While this is exciting, professionals and students must be properly prepared for such trips to ensure cultural safety and avoid potential ethical concerns and pitfalls of neo-colonialist perspectives in working in resource-poor contexts. There is a burgeoning literature on volunteer tourism and medical tourism that can be used to assist us in planning and preparing for such work. Some examples from the first author's experiences in Malawi, Tanzania, and Kenya are used to illustrate some of the ethical concerns in SLPs' and AUDs' voluntourism. This article suggests that we attend to the motivations of volunteers, conduct training to ensure culturally safe and sustainable practices, and assist volunteers in coping with culture shock and re-entry shock. Research is needed to understand best practices in assessment and treatment in global contexts and best practices in pre- and post-trip training for SLP/AUD volunteers and students.

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