Cultural Diversity and the Code of Ethics

June 3, 2010
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When we speak of multiculturalism or cultural diversity, we usually think of ethnic and cultural differences, speaking a language other than English, sexual orientation and gender. When making revisions to the NAADAC Code of Ethics, the standards in this area were expanded to include those who are differently abled. This includes persons with learning disabilities, those who cannot read or write, the visually and hearing impaired, persons with mobility restrictions, etc. Meeting the needs of some of these persons can be challenging and require resources that are not readily available. A particular challenge is meeting the needs of persons who communicate through American Sign Language (ASL). Interpreters are not always available.

In the college setting, we can meet the needs of persons who sign in the classroom, however finding field placement sites where they can complete experiential hours has been a major challenge. A number of questions arise: If funds are available to pay supervisors of hearing impaired counselors, would accommodations be made by clients and staff? How are addiction treatment agencies responding to the need for counseling of deaf individuals? Is treatment not available for those who are hearing impaired? If the hearing impaired person reads lips, will other needs and accommodations be ignored because the challenge of being deaf appears to be managed?

These questions raise ethical and moral issues. Please respond with information about what is happening in your area and with suggesting for filling the needs of the differently abled. There is interest in endorsing counselors who know ASL and who provide services to the deaf community; is there support for the endorsement?

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