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Northeastern University in Charlotte opens new Speech-Language Center to provide therapy and community support to those battling communication disorders.

By Shelley Stockton

What’s Happening

In the paper “Speech-Language Pathology and People of Color: A Social Justice Perspective” presented at the 2021 Hawaii University International Conference, it was noted that race, socioeconomic status, and familial cultural beliefs can prevent children from receiving much needed speech and language therapy. The paper states that communities of color may not receive speech and language services due to the lack of knowledge about, and access to, these services, or the stigma and distrust around these services. More importantly, without intervention such impairments can lead to reading and behavioral disabilities, speech and social delays, and falling behind in school.

How Northeastern University in Charlotte Speech-Language Center is Helping

Northeastern University in Charlotte Speech-Language Center aims to reach those with speech and language difficulties by offering services tailored to patients’ cultural and linguistic background. A big part of that is differentiating a language disorder from a language difference. “(This) is a crucial aspect of clinical assessment in speech-language pathology,” Dr. Toya Foggie, clinic director and assistant clinical professor, says. “Clinicians recognize that variations in language use, dialects, accents, and communication styles may exist within different cultural and linguistic communities.” Dr. Foggie defines a language difference as variations in language use due to cultural or linguistic factors, and a language disorder as impairments in language skills that significantly affect communication and academic achievement.

The Center’s speech-language pathologists (SLPs) will also use interpreters during the assessment process when necessary and will consult with bilingual speech-language pathologists to accurately access a patient’s needs. “The (Center) employs a culturally and linguistically sensitive approach to differentiate between language disorders and language differences, aiming to provide accurate diagnoses and individualized intervention plans that address the unique needs of each client,” Dr. Foggie says. Collaborating with the child’s parents or caregivers to reinforce consistency is also key to successful speech and language therapy. However, as the paper informs the problem does not stop at therapy. “While speech therapy can be an important component of support for students, systemic changes within the education system are also needed to promote equity, inclusion, and academic success for all students,” Dr. Foggie says.

How the Center Reaches Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC)

To help BIPOC communities learn more about access to treatment, Northeastern Speech-Language Center plans to partner with local organizations, schools, churches and community centers to provide information sessions on speech and language disorders, communication challenges, and available services. “By implementing these outreach strategies, the (Center) can effectively reach BIPOC communities, address barriers to care, and promote awareness, acceptance, and access to speech-language services for all individuals,” Dr. Foggie says.

Northeastern University in Charlotte also knows the field of speech-language pathology needs to be more representative of the community and is actively trying to recruit students from diverse backgrounds for the Master of Science (MS) in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program and to hire a more diverse and bilingual faculty. “Addressing underrepresentation in teaching and faculty is a critical aspect of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within academic institutions,” Nia Johnson, assistant program director and assistant clinical professor says. Northeastern University in Charlotte is developing strategies to achieve this such as partnering with Johnson C. Smith University, providing scholarships and financial aid for MS-SLP students, and implementing culturally responsive curriculum and campus diversity initiatives.

Northeastern Speech-Language Center Services

Services at The Center are provided by student clinicians who are supervised by licensed Northeastern University Charlotte speech-language pathology faculty. Appointments can be made by emailing Clinical Director Dr. Toya Foggie at [email protected]. More information can be found by visiting or calling the Center at 704-378-8166. To reach as many patients as possible the Center offers speech-language therapy services pro bono to the Charlotte community. Available services include:

  • Aphasia and Related Disorders
  • Articulation and Phonological Disorders
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ACC)
  • Aural Rehabilitation and Speech Reading
  • Dysarthria
  • Dysfluency (Stuttering)
  • Expressive/Receptive Language Delays and Disorders
  • Literacy and Reading Disorders
  • Pragmatic and Social Communication Disorders
  • Stroke, Head, Injury, and Progressive Neurological-Related Disorders
  • Voice and Resonance Disorders

*See Center website for a full listing of services

Northeastern University Speech-Language Pathology Program

Northeastern University in Charlotte’s Master of Science (MS) in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) prepares students for the rigors of clinical practice in educational and healthcare settings. The program has partnerships with local school districts, private practices, and Charlotte-area hospitals including Advocate Health. The MS-SLP program is accredited by The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Shelley Stockton is a freelance writer and editor living in Charlotte, N.C. Contact her at [email protected] or through her website at

“By implementing outreach strategies, the (Center) can effectively reach BIPOC communities, address barriers to care, and promote awareness, acceptance, and access to speech-language services for all individuals”

Dr. Toya Foggie, SLPD, CCC-SLP
Clinic Director & Assistant Clinical Professor, Northeastern University in Charlotte

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