A Critical Analysis of State-Level Policies Impacting Racialized Emergent Bilinguals Suspected or Labeled as Dis/abled

Xigrid Soto-Boykin, María Rosa Brea-Spahn, Shakira Perez, Meaghan McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


PURPOSE: The purpose of this review article is to conduct a critical analysis of state-level policies focusing on the provision of speech-language therapy and special education to children and youth who are racialized emergent bilinguals (REBs) suspected or labeled as dis/abled. METHOD: We analyzed the state-level policies focusing on speech-language therapy and/or special education of California, Kansas, Florida, and New York. We coded content in terms of labels used to describe REBs; the focus of states' policies, whether the policy mentioned the provision of bilingual services, and the orientation toward bilingualism. Thematic analyses and descriptive statistics were used to analyze the policies, and interrater reliability was calculated. RESULTS: The results of this review revealed that most state-level policies contain English-centric, deficit-based labels to describe REBs and that most focus primarily on the classification and eligibility for dis/ability. Only one state addresses the provision of bilingual education for REBs labeled as dis/abled. The bulk of policies are underpinned by an ideology of "bilingualism as a difference," meaning that the main idea of the policies is that emerging English skills does not result in a dis/ability. CONCLUSIONS: Policies do not exist in a vacuum and are influenced by sociopolitical ideologies. The findings of this review highlight the urgency of applying an intersectional, justice-focused approach to the policies and practices impacting REBs suspected and/or labeled as disabled in the fields of speech-language therapy and special education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-745
Number of pages17
JournalLanguage, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 5 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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