A Message About the ASHA Convention and Louisiana

The ASHA Convention is scheduled for New Orleans, Louisiana this coming November. Recent Supreme Court rulings, as well as an array of issues in conflict with ASHA’s long standing commitment to DEI, have raised concerns about our Louisiana location from some members, and we have heard many calls to move, cancel or boycott the event. We are aware that some of you do not feel safe from discrimination, while others may think this is an unnecessary foray by ASHA into political issues. We respect your individual responses and decisions for participation.

Our utmost concern is always the safety and well-being of our members, both at the ASHA Convention and in your day-to-day work. Always. We want everyone to be able to participate in the ASHA Convention fully and comfortably. We aim to ensure you are treated equitably and fairly, not only within the walls of the ASHA Convention, but while visiting our host city. Not only does that mean that everyone with whom you interact treats you with dignity and respect, but it also means that you should be able to access appropriate medical care, if necessary, and receive full consideration of your identity based on dimensions of diversity that include but are not limited to: age, citizenship, disability, ethnicity, gender, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and veteran status. Your physical and mental well-being matter to us.

Our goal is always for the ASHA Convention to be a source for personal and professional reinvigoration, and we understand how important that is to you. The educational offerings are unmatched, and nowhere else will you find the opportunity to connect with your fellow communication sciences and disorders colleagues on this scale. ASHA meetings are key venues for the science exchange and networking that connects this hugely caring community. We, like many of you, started the year with a positive outlook regarding the global pandemic and were hopeful to once again be planning for an in-person Convention. We missed you and we know that you missed each other. Our team understands that the most valuable aspect of the ASHA Convention is the human connections, and we work hard to provide programs, activities, and features that facilitate those crucial opportunities to build bonds with colleagues and friends.

Simply put, we do not have the option to move the 2022 ASHA Convention from New Orleans at this point in time. The ASHA Convention is a large citywide event, and the complexities of our space requirements leave us with no viable alternative location less than six months out. We also do not have the option to cancel the 2022 Convention, nor can we convert it to an all-virtual event. The Convention Program Committee has completed its selection and scheduling of sessions, and acceptance notifications will go out on July 14. Thousands of authors will be presenting in person; for many, this will be a first-time opportunity to present. (We will work with any presenter who has health or safety concerns about presenting in person in Louisiana.)

We know that it is hard to remain resilient when you feel that equality and justice are eroding. Some members are suggesting boycotting travel to Louisiana, and we respect that decision. In addition, some employers are banning travel to certain states. If you find yourself unable to participate in person, we invite you to consider registering for the ASHA Convention Virtual Library to meet your professional education needs. The Virtual Library will house hundreds of pre-recorded oral sessions and over a thousand poster presentations. In addition, we are live broadcasting the slides and audio from select in-person sessions taking place in New Orleans to the Virtual Library.

If you are unsure about attending, we’d like you to consider a few points. The ASHA Convention and its host city have a symbiotic relationship. The size of our Convention limits us to major urban destinations that have diverse communities and offer resources suitable to our volume of attendees, including accessible venues, public safety services, and qualified hospitality staff. Our Convention helps uplift local economies and can have a positive impact on their residents. Some destinations retain the benefits of our business within our host city, while others may pass revenue up through the state. We bring our values to the local communities and try to make a positive impact while there, knowing that most destinations face challenges arising from economic and social disparities. We are keenly aware of how the ASHA Convention may benefit a destination when weighing our options for future locations.

We are actively working with our New Orleans partners to identify state-based organizations working to address equity and access so that you can engage with them directly on issues that matter the most to you while at the Convention. (Read the message from our New Orleans partners.)

A final thought: we are proud to be stewards of the largest gathering in the world of communication sciences and disorders (CSD) professionals and students—and to serve people who understand that effective communication is a human right. The root of many issues can be traced back to communication failures; likewise, our best hope for closing divides is to keep communicating effectively. Consider the benefits of engaging with area leaders in Louisiana to make your voice heard on issues that impact you. Consider what may be gained by being present with the CSD community and connecting face-to-face with colleagues and ASHA leaders on the issues you care about. Let’s keep the dialogue open and work for resolution.

Our Senior Director of Convention and Meetings, Ellen Shortill, invites you to email her directly at eshortill@asha.org if you have safety issues that we can address, and welcomes your ideas for actions that we could implement to help you reframe your participation and impact at the ASHA Convention in New Orleans.

About ASHA

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for members and affiliates who are audiologists, speech-language pathologists, speech, language, and hearing scientists, audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel, and students.

About the Convention

The ASHA Convention is one of the largest professional development events for audiologists; speech-language pathologists; and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Bringing together approximately 15,000 attendees, the annual Convention offers more than 2,500 sessions eligible for ASHA continuing education credit covering the latest research, clinical skills, and techniques in communication sciences and disorders.

Contact Us

For inquiries about the ASHA Convention: convention@asha.org

The ASHA Action Center welcomes questions and requests for information from members and non-members.

Available 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. ET

Members: 800-498-2071
Non-Member: 800-638-8255

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