A Model of International Cooperation: The ASHA–PAHO Partnership in Central and South America 

Presented at the IALP Congress Presentation in Dublin Ireland, August 2016


This panel will present the collaboration between the American Speech Language and Hearing Association and the Pan-American Health Organization as they support the work of agencies in three different countries. The agencies included one rehabilitation national institute and two higher education programs. The general goal of this collaboration is to strengthen the knowledge and capacity building of professionals and/or organizations that address communication disorders including hearing. In El Salvador, ASHA is providing technical assistance to train personnel in phonoaudiology. In Guyana, ASHA is providing technical assistance to strengthen its national strategic plan in intervention and prevention, and establish a speech and language pathology and audiology program. In Honduras, ASHA is providing technical assistance to establish a phonoaudiology.

Panel Discussant I: The WHO Global Disability Action Plan: Response by PAHO and ASHA

Dr. Armando Vazquez and Lily Waterston

The 67th World Health Assembly endorsed the WHO Global Disability Action Plan 2014–2021: Better Health for All People with Disability. The 53rd PAHO Directing Council endorsed the Regional Disability and Rehabilitation Action Plan. Both align mutually and provide a roadmap for WHO member countries and international partners to work together to improve the health and human rights of people with long-term and functional disabilities.

The ASHA Board of Directors instituted its Strategic Pathway to Excellence with an objective to "Strengthen Strategic Relationships" by engaging with organizations to support ASHA’s mission and expand ASHA’s outreach worldwide. Among the priorities were to identify opportunities to collaborate with the World Health Organization (WHO). Thus, the ASHA International Issues Board (IIB), ASHA and the PAHO, Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) started collaborating with ASHA providing technical assistance on our professions in the Americas region.

In 2013, ASHA and PAHO selected three of PAHO’s priority countries (Honduras, El Salvador and Guyana) wanting to address communication disorders. The ASHA-PAHO assessment teams identified the needs and recommended offering educational and service delivery technical assistance in communication disorders. Subsequently, ASHA established three ad hoc committees composed of ASHA members volunteers.

Panel Discussant II: El Salvador – Addressing the Needs of Persons with Hearing Loss

Dr. Linda Rosa-Lugo

The El Salvador Ad Hoc Committee was charged to provide technical assistance to the Instituto Salvadoreño de Rehabilitación Integral (ISRI) staff engaged in the rehabilitation of Communication Disorders in El Salvador. Specifically, ASHA is providing technical assistance to the Center for Hearing and Language (Centro de Audición y Lenguaje [CALE]) for training and capacity building for personnel in speech-language pathology and audiology. This includes the use of equipment and assisting with the development of modules and training programs for different tiers of personnel, to include personnel who (a) do not have professional education in speech pathology and audiology, (b) have speech pathology and audiology professional education, and (c) are in need of training for the use of specialized audiology equipment.

Panel Discussant III: Honduras: A new Profession is Born—Phonoaudiology

Dr. Silvia Martinez

The Honduran Ad Hoc Committee was charged to provide technical assistance to the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH) in order to develop a phonoaudiology program; the first of its kind in this country. This charge was realized after three agencies (ASHA, PAHO, and UNAH) agreed to develop an action plan to include a comprehensive implementation phase. The Honduran Action Plan consisted of two phases. The first phase included outlining the preliminary steps needed to obtain approval from university officials to develop a phonoaudiology program. Additional support for the establishment of academic and clinical facilities was also considered in the first phase. The second phase included plans for program implementation and sustainability.

Panel Discussant IV: Guyana: Form Community Awareness to Sustainability in Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology

Dr. Gloria Weddington Guyana is an English-speaking country located on the east coast of South America and is approximately three hours by plane from Miami and five hours from New York. The Guyana Ad Hoc Committee's charge is to provide technical assistance to the MOH in order to strengthen its National Strategic Plan for early detection and intervention of communication disorders, create a personnel training program for communication disorders, develop a Training of Trainers Program, which would assist local technicians and assistants to develop the knowledge and skills to train other technicians and assistants, and facilitate the development of an awareness campaign.


  1. Describe innovative approaches used by a professional association and an international health organization to address capacity training in underserved countries
  2. Summarize the process of developing capacity building programs and activities in Honduras, El Salvador and Guyana
  3. Articulate outcomes of the ASHA/PAHO collaboration

Submission Category: Professional Bodies: Collaborations and Contributions

Presenter Bios

Silvia Martinez, Ed.D., is Associate Professor at Howard University in Communication Sciences and Disorders. For more than 30 years, Dr. Martinez has addressed the needs of bilingual and multicultural populations as a bilingual speech pathologist as well as an academician and researcher. She is very well known in her field, for her expertise in assessment and service delivery to Spanish speaking populations, especially those populations from Central and South America. Her diverse interests include phonological development, low literate populations, health literacy and technology. Before arriving at Howard University, she taught at George Washington University, was the Director for Multicultural Education and Practices at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, exercised as Interim Director of the Early Childhood Education Program at Roxbury Community College, and worked in the Boston and Cambridge Public Schools. Presently, she serves as the Expert Consultant to the ASHA-PAHO Initiative addressing the needs of Honduras, El Salvador and Guyana. Dr. Martinez has degrees from the University of Puerto Rico (Rio Piedras and Medical Center Campuses) in Psychology, and Speech and Language Pathology, Boston University in Applied Psycholinguistics with focus on second language acquisition and multiculturalism, and Harvard University where she earned a degree in International Education. Dr. Martinez is author of articles and books, and has earned many awards for her contributions to the professions.

Linda I. Rosa-Lugo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Central Florida. She was the Coordinator of a USDOE, OSEP Personnel Preparation Grant to prepare SLPs for new educational roles in language and literacy and is the Principal Investigator of two United States Department of Education, OSEP Personnel Preparation Grants that prepares SLPs to provide services to English Learners with communication disorders. With these grants she has worked collaboratively with the faculty of the University of Puerto Rico, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and the University of Sao Paulo at Bauru to provide opportunities for graduate student exchange opportunities. She was also the recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Research Fellow at the University of the West Indies (Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad). Her research interests focus on language and literacy development in Hispanic youngsters who are deaf/hard of hearing and the development of listening and spoken language in deaf children from diverse homes.

Gloria Weddington is Professor Emerita in Communicative Disorders & Sciences at San Jose State University where she chaired the department and taught for more than 40 years. A specialist in child language, she published in the area of diversity, concentrating on African American English. She holds Honors and Fellow of ASHA, Honors of the Santa Clara County Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and multicultural awards from the ASHA and the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She co-authored The African American Child with Jean van Keulen and Charles DeBose (Allyn & Bacon, 1998) and refereed journal articles and book chapters on African American English and craniofacial anomalies. She has presented workshops and lectures on related topics at national & international conferences. Gloria Weddington is also known for creating and managing graduate and undergraduate speech-language pathology educational programs in remote and isolated regions of the world, including Saudi Arabia, Guam & Micronesia, and South Africa. She’s also taught at universities in Uganda, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.

Lily Waterston, M.A. is the first Director of International Programs at the American Speech-LanguageHearing Association (ASHA). She serves as the primary ASHA National Office advocate and resource for advancing the Association’s International Programs worldwide. She is the ex officio to the Special Interest Group (SIG) 17 "Global Issues in Communication Sciences and Related Disorders," the ex officio to three Ad Hoc Committees for the collaboration between ASHA and the Pan American Health Organization, Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), and a consultant/staff to the International Issues Board (IIB). Waterston is in charge of strengthening strategic partnerships, managing the international affiliates program, promoting scientific and communication exchanges among professionals in communication sciences and disorders around the world. She has started-up, managed and built international/global public health programs as a leader for more than 30 years in non-for profits, associations, and international organizations. Prior to ASHA she worked at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) where she created an international public health program from inception as its first Director of International Affairs and expanded it into a well-established program, raising funds around $6,000,000.00 per year. Her first job was at PAHO/WHO. She received her Master's degree in International Relations/Latin American Studies from Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service. Waterston was awarded an Honorary Professorship from the Universidad Nacional San Luis Gonzaga in Ica, Peru, for her work in international public health.

Dr. Vásquez is Venezuelan, and studied medicine at the University Centro Occidental "Lisandro Alvarado" in Barquisimeto. After working as a general practitioner, Dr Vásquez did his graduate studies in Public Health Administration with a specialty in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and in the Management of Human Resources in the area of Occupational Health. For several years he held various positions within the Ministry of Health, including Hospital Director, District Health Chief, State Health Director, Coordinator of the National Rehabilitation Program, and Deputy Assistant to the General Director of the Ministry of Health. Dr Vásquez is an active member of the Latin American Medical Association of Rehabilitation (AMLAR) and the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility (ICTA-LA) as well as other national organizations. Over the years, Dr Vásquez has worked as a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to develop rehabilitation projects in Central America. Currently, Dr. Vásquez is PAHO's Regional Adviser on Rehabilitation and works in close collaboration with partner organizations across the region to strengthen rehabilitation programs and promote policies related to disability. 

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