WMU emerita receives American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's highest honor

Contact: Joel Krauss

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) will recognize Dr. Yvette D. Hyter, professor emerita of speech, language and hearing sciences, with the Honors of the Association at its ASHA 2023 Convention in Boston on Friday, Nov. 17. This is the highest honor bestowed by the organization, distinguishing members for their contributions to communication sciences and disorders disciplines. ASHA aims to recognize contributions of excellence that enhance and alter the course of speech-language-hearing professions.

Dr. Yvette D. Hyter

Hyter, who retired from Western in 2020 after 22 years at the University, has been working in the communication sciences field for nearly 40 years. She continues to work on a part-time basis at the WMU Resiliency Center for Families and Children. She also runs a consulting practice that focuses on culturally responsive and trauma-informed practices, areas that she has focused on throughout her career.

“I love the work of collaborating with children to support their communicative successes,” says Hyter. “The struggles I have had as a Black woman in a discipline that still reckons with leftover colonial practices has fueled my teaching, research and clinical work and focus."

She has sought to diversify and advance education in speech-language-hearing, co-authoring a groundbreaking textbook and by initiating scholarships for students of color. The textbook, "Culturally Responsive Practices in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences," was the first in the field to focus on culturally responsive practices rather than on multiculturalism.

Hyter also co-founded the Equity Action Collective, a group of speech-language faculty who insert critical science into the discipline. Among its activities, the EAC produces an open access journal, The Journal of the Critical Study of Communication and Disability, designed to provide a forum for critical science related to people and groups who are marginalized for their ways of communicating.

“Honors of the Association is one of the greatest awards one can receive in our discipline, and it is so well deserved,” says Dr. Laura DeThorne, chair of the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. “Dr. Hyter has been a pioneer and champion for diversity, equity and inclusion in our discipline.”

Throughout her time as an instructor, Hyter has consistently mentored junior faculty and students of color, both at WMU and at institutions across the United States.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is starting a scholarship for speech-language-hearing students of color who are interested global issues, social pragmatic communication, trauma-informed or culturally-responsive practices,” says Hyter. “To date, the scholarship has awarded six student $1,000 each.”

While the Honors of the Association award comes from looking back at an impactful career that has touched the lives of a great number of clients, colleagues and students, Hyter says she looks forward in the field with some optimism.

“I think the field is not focused enough on equity mindedness and social justice,” she says. “But there are more voices now of clinicians and scholars turning away from the medical model, to focus more on a social model of care and critical science perspectives. My hope is that the next generations of speech-language-hearing clinicians, scholars and educators will continue to push the discipline to be more equitable and just in our practices and in our pedagogy, curricula, research, and the policies that govern the discipline.”

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

ASHA is the national professional, scientific and credentialing association for 228,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology assistants; and students. Learn more at asha.org.

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