Published on February 26th, 20142
Flak and Contact: Promoting our Professions (1977)
From the SAC Archives: A Year-Long Retrospective Series
Publication: Hear Here, Volume VII, Number 9
Original publication date: December 1977
Author: Donald C. Hood
Introduction by: Sharon Halldorson, S-LP (C) and Maureen Penko, S-LP (C)
Donald C. Hood was President of the Canadian Speech and Hearing Association in 1977 (CSHA was Speech-Language and Audiology Canada’s name until 1985). In this “President’s Comment” from CSHA’s newsletter Hear Here, Hood delivers a stirring and passionate message that still resonates with our professions today. He discusses the concepts of “Flak” (including the protective “Flakjacket”, which reflects the feedback and constructive criticism the association receives from the membership), and “Contact” (the idea of reaching out to our membership, other professions and the government to increase awareness and celebration of speech-language pathology and audiology in Canada). Hood uses the terms “exciting” and “exhilarating” to describe CSHA’s ability to “[get] in on the ground floor of a problem” and tackle it head on. In 2014, we can proudly say that Hood and his colleagues’ aspirations are alive and thriving: Speech-Language and Audiology Canada continues to collaborate with members, other professions and the government.
Ground Floor Action
It becomes increasingly difficult in a growing organization like ours for me to get a feeling of grass root sentiment and emotion regarding our self-image as growing, important professions. In talking with colleagues across the nation I sense some undercurrent of excitement about what is happening provincially and nationally in our professions, but do not know if the rest of the membership shares this feeling. Perhaps I can, by discussing two factors of my modus operandi, help you hop on the pride bandwagon that is underway in speech pathology and audiology. I’ll call these two factors FLAK and CONTACT.
FLAK (n. anti aircraft fire; (fig.) barrage of criticism; — jacket protective jacket of heavy fabric reinforced with metal.) *The Canadian Speech and Hearing Association has come under increasing flak in the past two to three years since the Association has attempted to do something other than get itself together (there is a more current idiomatic expression that applies here, but this would raise too many eyebrows.) Viewed positively, as indeed I view it, the barrage be it really more a trickle at this point , is feed-back from at least a portion of the membership: some caustic, but a good deal of it constructive. Some of this flak has appeared in past issues of Hear Here in the form of letters received. The point here is not whether the flak was justified or not, but rather that there was flak at all. I am really excited about that and you should be too because at least something has happened to make some members stop and think, “Hey what’s going on here?” This is exactly what I was talking about in my comment in the July, 1977 Hear Here. The trick to using flak effectively is to have a flakjacket with holes in it. The holes let through the constructive and justified criticism and the intact jacket with the non-constructive and vitriolic flak bounce off. Sometimes the executive committee forces an issue in hopes of getting flak and sometimes we quite unintentionally get it. Whichever the case, our flakjackets have large holes to let in as much as possible. By accepting and reacting to criticism we change and get stronger as an association and as professionals.
CONTACT (n.,g. t. l. state or condition of touching…. 3. V.t. get in touch with (person); begin correspondence or personal dealings with.) *I believe you have noticed the association’s effort this past year and a half to reach out to professional and non-professional groups to initiate liaison and contact, to let others know who we are and what we do (even though we haven’t really taken a close look at those questions yet.) Perhaps the most currently developed liaison will generate a sense of pride in where our professions are and where we have to go.
On the 17th of November 1977 Mike Webster, vice-president and I met with a representative of the Canadian Medical Association in Ottawa to discuss establishing liaison between our associations. We were warmly received and feel that that liaison will be able to do a good job of educating other professional groups about speech pathology and audiology. We broached the idea of sitting down with the medical profession now under the C.M.A. auspices to discuss the relationship between our professions and the medical profession. By confronting this issue we may be able to avoid many of the problems and bad feelings extant in the United States of America between these two groups. Sounds exciting? This is getting in on the ground floor of the problem.
On the 18th of November, Mike, Elaine Pressman and I met with the Health Standards Directorate of the Department of National Health and Welfare in Ottawa for the first official CSHA meeting with the federal government. Even Dr. Robertson of the Health Standards Directorate labelled the meeting as an historic occasion. The purpose of the meeting was to establish a committee to devise standards of clinical practice in our professions and write the terms of reference for that committee. You have read in Hear Here about this contact and will be kept abreast of what happens. What I want to let you in on here is that the attitude that prevailed at that meeting was one of affability and of complete cooperation. The federal government will not set the standards, we will, with federal money and guidance on how to devise a standard. The three of us who met were terribly excited about the contact and the growth potential that that and future contacts could have for our profession. There is that word, exciting, again. Perhaps exhilarating is more appropriate because we see CSHA as getting in on the ground floor of a problem, in this case defining what we do, looking it squarely in the face and taking the best approach to tackle it.
I sincerely hope that my comments help you feel what’s happening. As I see it, Flak and Contact, the way they are discussed here can only help us grow and can allow us to be proud of ourselves and excited about being part of this growth.
About this retrospective series:
To commemorate SAC’s 50th anniversary, we will be republishing articles from SAC’s early newsletters and magazines throughout 2014. We will republish the articles in their entirety and will not be editing them for style or grammar. Sharon Halldorson, S-LP(C); Maureen Penko, S-LP(C); Andrea Richardson-Lipon, AuD, Aud (C) and Jessica Bedford, SAC Director of Communications and Marketing, are the editors of this year-long retrospective series.