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Multilingual/Multicultural Program

PrISMS: Preparing Intervention Specialists for Multilingual/Multicultural Settings

Students in ASU's communication disorders master's program who are interested in completing the communication disorders in multilingual/multicultural populations certificate program may apply to receive partial funding for their training through the PrISMS program.

PrISMS (Preparing Intervention Specialists for Multilingual/Multicultural Settings) is a program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).  In Fall 2016, OSEP awarded Arizona State University $1.2M for PrISMS. The program will prepare 30 bilingual speech-language pathology students to work in multilingual/multicultural settings. PrISMS training includes 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.  Upon program completion, PrISMS scholars will receive the communication disorders in multilingual/multicultural populations certificate.


The PrISMS program will prepare 30 high-quality speech-language pathologists to serve families and their children with disabilities who are culturally and linguistically diverse, including dual language learners, thus responding to the identified need to serve Arizona’s and the nation’s most vulnerable populations. The program targets improved identification and learning outcomes for children with communication disorders who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The long-term aim is to prepare children with communication disorders to be successful throughout their early intervention and schooling, leading to better transitions out of school, and possibly into college.

Graduates of the PrISMS training program will be prepared to use evidence-based practices to support the development of young culturally and linguistically diverse 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, PrISMS scholars will receive the Master of Science (MS) in communication disorders and the communication disorders in multilingual/multicultural populations certificate from ASU's College of Health Solutions. 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.



PrISMS students will take six specialized courses as part of the certificate program in communication disorders in multilingual/multicultural populations:

  • Counseling in Communication Disorders
  • Communication Disorders and Multicultural Populations
  • Spanish Language Acquisition
  • Multilingual Speech-Language Pathology
  • Language Essentials for Teaching Reading
  • A Capstone project with a multilingual/multicultural focus

Practicum and Internship

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

Professional Seminars

Professional seminars or webinars, scheduled once per semester, provide students, as well as on- and off-campus supervisors, with the latest evidence on best practices for working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations. These are presented by researchers from around the country and the globe who are specialists in disciplines focusing on multilingual/multicultural concerns. Each presenter gives a 1-2 hour presentation and participates in a question-and-answer session. The seminars 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. 

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. 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, with a focus on the development of sustainable practices. 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.  PrISMS scholars will present a poster on their community-based project during the Research Day held in the Spring semester of every year.


A PrISMS application will be provided to students upon admission to the MS in communication disorders program.  Applications will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis by project personnel, until all positions are filled. Five new trainees will be selected each year to receive support.  Criteria for selection will be based on the following indicators: (a) admitted to the MS in communication disorders program; (b) current grade point average (3.0 or higher); (c) intent to work with school-age children in an educational or medical setting, or birth-to-three early intervention program. 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. Students who receive PrISMS funding are required, upon graduation, to work in an early childhood special education or pediatric setting for 2 years for each year of support received, IDEA 662(h).  Repayment of all or part of the support will be required if this requirement is not met.

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. 


Nancy Scherer
Principal Investigator

Laida Restrepo
Co-Principal Investigator

Kate Helms Tillery
Project Director