Department of Speech and Hearing Science

Multilingual Multicultural Program

Preparing Intervention Specialists for Multilingual Multicultural Settings (PrISMS)

Arizona State University’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science (SHS) has been awarded $1.2M through the U.S. Department of Education to prepare 30 bilingual speech-language pathology students to work in multilingual, multicultural settings. The grant will fund a program that provides specialized coursework and community-based clinical training in assessment and intervention for children with communication disorders who are from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Students accepted into the program will receive a partial tuition waiver and a stipend, and will receive a multilingual/multicultural specialty certificate upon program completion. The program, entitled “Preparing Intervention Specialists for Multilingual Multicultural Settings” (PrISMS), began in Fall 2016.   

PrISMS scholars


As part of the PrISMS program, we will ensure that the scholars will improve the identification and learning outcomes of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) children, which in turn will better prepare them academically to be successful throughout their early intervention and schooling, leading to better transitions out of school, and possibly into college. Our specialized coursework, clinical training, professional webinar series and applied projects will help them focus on the specific needs of CLD children with disabilities, leading to higher literacy and academic achievement. Recent research indicates that culturally and linguistically relevant interventions promote more positive outcomes for individuals with a range of disorders (Hasnain et al., 2011).

The PrISMS program will prepare 30 high-quality speech-language pathologists to serve families and their infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities who are CLD, including dual language learners (DLL), thus responding to the identified need to serve Arizona’s most vulnerable populations. Graduates of this training project will be prepared to use evidence-based practices to support the development of young children with disabilities and their families and continue their own professional development through community-based interprofessional activities, thereby having the ability to produce practice-based outcomes that positively impact the educational success of their students. Upon graduation, the PrISMS scholars will receive the MS in Communication Disorders from ASU and the Multilingual Multicultural Certificate from the Department of Speech and Hearing Science. In addition, they will be eligible for the ASHA Clinical Fellowship, Arizona Department of Health Services licensure in speech-language pathology, and Arizona Department of Education PreK-12 certification in speech-language pathology.




Students will take seven specialized courses in CLD practices as part of the Multilingual Multicultural Certificate:

  • Counseling in Communication Disorders
  • Communication Disorders and Multicultural Populations
  • Spanish Language Acquisition
  • Multilingual Speech-language Pathology
  • Literacy Assessment and Intervention in CLD Children
  • Family-centered Training in Early Intervention
  • A Capstone project with a CLD population

Capstone Project

Students will contribute to the discipline-wide knowledge base by completing a hands-on community-based capstone project involving research, resource compilation, interprofessional service delivery, or study abroad. For example, students choosing a research project may participate in data collection and analysis to aid in the development of dynamic assessment of language disorders in a particular language group. Scholars interested in resource compilation may develop culturally relevant family-friendly materials on enriching language at home. These materials would be used in a community partner agency, and would be composed of both paper and electronic resources. An interprofessional project might involve working with other related services personnel, such as physical therapists or social workers, to develop culturally sensitive materials for refugee parents and their children with disabilities in a partner agency. Students choosing study abroad can participate in humanitarian service provision in Mexico, Nicaragua, or Malawi, with a focus on development of sustainable practices. This experience will be invaluable in developing cultural sensitivities, and in some cases linguistic competencies. The SHS department directs these three study abroad programs that provide speech, language and/or hearing assessments and interventions in clinic and school settings in those countries. They are led by SHS faculty for 2-5 weeks over semester breaks or the summer. The overall aims of the community-based capstone project are to enrich the students’ expertise in and understanding of a particular issue, group, or need in the community. Each project will also expand information about the characteristics and needs of particular groups for the discipline as a whole.

Practicum and Internship

Each scholar will have at least one practicum with an ASU mentor and one off-campus internship in an interprofessional environment. Both practica will involve working with CLD children and their families. Through their clinical rotations and hands-on experiences, PrISMS scholars will acquire clinical and practical skills with a variety of CLD populations, including Latino children, American Indian children, those with refugee status, children from low-income environments, and multilingual children.


Professional webinars will provide students, as well as on- and off-campus supervisors, with the latest evidence on best practices for working with CLD populations. These will be presented by researchers from around the country and the globe who are specialists in a CLD-relevant area. Each presenter will give a 1-2 hour webinar presentation and participate in an online question-and-answer period and blog follow-up. The seminars will focus on such topics as language assessment in African American children, speech development in bilingual Latino children, and culturally competent service provision to refugee families. These professional webinars will be scheduled once per semester over the course of the five-year funding cycle, for a total of 10 seminars.


The six core competencies are guided by the national professional standards of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHSA).

  1. Demonstrated knowledge in basic human communication and swallowing processes including their biological, neurological, acoustic, psychological, developmental, linguistic and cultural bases.
  2. Demonstrated knowledge of communicative and swallowing disorders including appropriate etiologies, characteristics, anatomical/physiological, acoustic psychological, developmental, linguistic and cultural correlates
  3. Demonstrated knowledge of principles and methods of prevention, assessment and intervention of people with communication and swallowing disorders
  4. Demonstrated knowledge of standards of ethical conduct
  5. Demonstrated knowledge of processes used in research and integration of research principles into evidence-based clinical practice
  6. Demonstrated knowledge of contemporary professional issues


One of the project goals is to facilitate the transition of scholars from graduate school to clinical fellow. Once scholars from the PrISMS program graduate, the project will support them as SLPs by conducting a yearly graduated-scholars' focus group and extending invitations for their continued participation in the Professional Webinar Series. In this way, our graduates will continue to be engaged in a professional community focused on their continual learning as well as keep abreast of current evidence and innovations in the field.

PrISMS scholars will present a poster on their community-based project during the Speech and Hearing Science Department Research Day held in May every year. Additionally, to increase scholars’ opportunities to present their work to broader professional audiences, we have requested funds to support their travel to such conferences as the Arizona Speech and Hearing Association meeting, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association convention, and the Arizona Council for Exceptional Children. Conference participation and presentation will serve as an initial induction of scholars into the professional field. Attendance at professional meetings provides continued professional learning, access to resources on current evidence-based practices, information about potential small grant opportunities funding innovative projects supporting children and families, peer networking through digital and social media, and advocacy updates.


We will conduct yearly focus groups with graduated PrISMS scholars. While this will also be used for program evaluation, focus groups will provide an opportunity to assess the needs of our scholars from a professional development perspective, guide them to available supports (e.g., state- or university-offered training opportunities), or provide resources. 


Applications are due by March 22, 2018. 

PrISMS Application 

Applications will be reviewed by project personnel. Ten trainees total will be selected to recieve support, five students from the first year of the MS program, and five students from the second year of the MS program. Criteria for selection will be based on the following indicators: (a) enrolled in the MS graduate program in Communication Disorders; (b) current grade point average (3.0 or higher); (c) three letters of recommendation for Year 1 support or final evaluations by practicum supervisor for Year 2 support; (d) preference criteria – intent to be employed in high-need Arizona school districts, Pre-K through 3rd grade special education settings, or Birth-to-3 early intervention program; and (e) experience working with CLD children. Further, students will be given priority if they demonstrate fluency in a second language or speak another language as their native language or if they have a disability. Finalists will meet with the project personnel for interviews.

Grant Information

The contents of this web page were developed under a grant from the US Department of Education, #H325K160079. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. 

Other Links

Graduate Education at ASU
Department of Speech and Hearing Science at ASU
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ISTE Standards
Bilingual Training Program


Nancy Scherer
Chair and Professor, Department of Speech and Hearing Science

Laida Restrepo
Professor, SHS Academic Faculty

Kate Helms Tillery
Project Director
Clinical Assistant Professor, SHS Clinical Faculty