Communication, Swallowing and the Sustainable Development Goals*

International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (Volume 25, Issue 1)

Guest Editors: Sharynne McLeod and Julie Marshall

Co-Editors: Professor Elizabeth Cardell and Associate Professor Natalie Munro

View the complete issue

How can the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) apply to our work as speech pathologists? We often think the SDGs relate to the planet, climate change, and recycling—but the United Nations’ vision for sustainability has two focal points—the planet AND people. Therefore, the SDGs are very relevant to our work as speech pathologists.

Volume 25(1) is a special issue of the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology titled “Communication, Swallowing and the Sustainable Development Goals”* and covers every one of the 17 SDGs. Its focus is on people with communication and/or swallowing disability and those who support them. The special issue of IJSLP demonstrates that successful communication is necessary for realisation of all 17 SDGs at both a global and an individual level.

Authors worked and undertook their research in Australia, Austria, Benin, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Columbia, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Greece, Iceland, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Maldives, Mozambique, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, State of Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Serbia, South Africa, Uganda, UK, USA, Vietnam.The first paper (McLeod & Marshall, 2023) summarises the history and relevance of the SDGs and the special issue.

The invited commentary written by Professor Graeme Clark and his team describe the evolution of cochlear implant technology and how neural prostheses are being used to restore vision and signals to the central nervous system (Zoneff et al., 2023).

Here is a brief summary of the papers in the special issue regarding communication, swallowing and their relationship with the SDGs.

  • No poverty (SDG 1). Poverty, communication and swallowing across the lifespan (Sherratt, 2023). Economic and social disempowerment (Weir et al., 2023). Unmet economic and social needs (e.g., housing, food) (Hamill et al., 2023). Social and economic autonomy (Weir et al., 2023).
  • Zero hunger (SDG 2). Communication-accessible information for food-insecure communities in Northern Mozambique (Jagoe, O’Reilly, Gunnell et al., 2023). 3D food printing for adults with swallowing disability (Chen et al., 2023).
  • Good health and well-being (SDG 3). Critical illness and sepsis (Freeman-Sanderson et al., 2023). Self-determined healthcare and digital health autonomy (Given et al., 2023).
  • Quality education (SDG 4). Inclusive and equitable education for deaf learners in Nepal (Snoddon & Murray, 2023). Early language development across the Arab world (Khattab et al., 2023). UNICEF/WHO Nurturing Care Framework in China (Camarata et al., 2023). Speech-language pathology students’ education enhanced by co-teaching with experts-by experience (Carroll et al., 2023).
  • Gender equality (SDG 5). Interpersonal violence in Iraq (Jagoe, O’Reilly, James et al., 2023).
  • Clean water and sanitation (SDG 6). Affordable and clean energy (SDG 7). Communication interventions integrating information about the SDGs (Crowe et al., 2023).
  • Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8). Community-based rehabilitation workers in Vietnam (Atherton et al., 2023). Recognition of the speech-language pathology profession in Cambodia (Bryce et al., 2023). Diversity of the Australian speech pathology workforce (Nancarrow et al., 2023).
  • Industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9). Cochlear implants and neural prostheses (Zoneff et al., 2023). Automatic speech recognition, assessment and intervention (Baker et al., 2023).
  • Reduced inequalities (SDG 10). Environmental, social and economic sustainability for reducing inequalities in the Maldives (Zahir et al., 2023). Australian Aboriginal (First Nations) children’s early literacy development (Freeman et al., 2023). Culturally safe speech and language support for First Nations children with chronic middle ear disease (Salins et al., 2023).
  • Sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11). Inclusive architectural design for education and healthcare (Gillett-Swan & Burton, 2023). Communication-friendly green and public spaces (Wallis et al., 2023).
  • Responsible consumption and production (SDG 12). Responsible consumption can be embedded within university language education curricula (Crowe et al., 2023).
  • Climate action (SDG 13). Climate-related disasters impact poverty, health, wellbeing, and access to education and health services (McGill et al., 2023; Sherratt, 2023).
  • Life below water (SDG 14). Banning of single use plastic straws to protect the turtles has been described as a “a form of eco-ableism, shallow environmentalism, and discrimination” (Hemsley et al., 2023).
  • Life on land (SDG 15). Impact of natural disasters on health, wellbeing, resilience, and communication needs of Australian children (McGill et al., 2023).
  • Peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16). Protection, inclusion, and participation in humanitarian contexts (Barrett & Marshall, 2023). Over-representation in the justice system (Snow, 2019). Registered intermediaries and communication assistants in justice systems (Kearns et al., 2023). Modern slavery (Wailes & Mackenzie, 2023).
  • Partnerships for the goals (SDG 17). Communication partner training for health-care workers in Austria, Egypt, Greece, India and Serbia (Isaksen et al., 2023). Online communication resources in 30+ languages (Sommer et al., 2023). Partnerships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal multidisciplinary team members for culturally-secure brain injury rehabilitation initiatives in Australia (Armstrong et al., 2023). Development of a new SLP program in Ghana, clinical partnerships in Kenya, and research programs (Dada, Wylie et al., 2023). creating meaningful partnerships with local stakeholders in East African countries (Sowden et al., 2023).
  • Questions of suitability of the SDGs (Pillay et al., 2023).

Communication for all is essential for the achievement of the SDGs, “peace and prosperity for people and the planet” (United Nations, 2015a). The achievement of the SDGs is the role of all including speech pathologists and other communication professionals, people with communication/swallowing disability, their families and communities.


  1. Communication for all and the Sustainable Development Goals
    Sharynne McLeod & Julie Marshall

  2. Restoration of the senses and human communication: Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 9
    Elizabeth R. Zoneff, Demi X. Gao, David R. Nisbet, David B. Grayden & Graeme M. Clark

  3. Going thirsty for the turtles: Plastic straw bans, people with swallowing disability, and Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water
    Bronwyn Hemsley, Simon Darcy, Fiona Given, Brad R. Murray & Susan Balandin

  4. The impact of climate-related disasters on children’s communication and wellbeing: Addressing Sustainable Development Goals
    Nicole McGill, Sarah Verdon, Michael Curtin, Judith Crockett, Tracey Parnell & Gene Hodgins

  5. Ensuring communication-friendly green and public spaces for sustainable cities: Sustainable Development Goal 11
    Adele K. Wallis, Marleen F. Westerveld & Paul Burton

  6. Ameliorating poverty-related communication and swallowing disabilities: Sustainable Development Goal 1
    Sue Sherratt

  7. Realising economic and social rights for children with communication and swallowing disability: Sustainable Development Goals 1, 8 and 10
    Stephanie Weir, Anna Arstein-Kerslake, Tricia Eadie & Keith McVilly

  8. Protecting people with communication disability from modern slavery: Supporting Sustainable Development Goals 8 and 16
    Emily Wailes & Freya Mackenzie

  9. The Sustainable Development Goals: A framework for addressing participation of persons with complex communication needs in South Africa
    Shakila Dada, Kerstin Tönsing, Juan Bornman, Alecia Samuels, Ensa Johnson & Refilwe Morwane

  10. Designing equitable speech-language pathology services in the Maldives to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 10 and 4
    Mariyam Z. Zahir, Anna Miles, Linda Hand & Elizabeth C. Ward

  11. A bite closer: Using 3D food printing to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3, 9 and 17
    Lily Chen, Deborah Debono & Bronwyn Hemsley

  12. Communicating accessible messages for food insecure communities in Northern Mozambique: Supporting Sustainable Development Goal 2
    Caroline Jagoe, Claire F. O’Reilly, Helga Gunnell, Ketty Tirzi, Charlotte Lancaster & Kavita Brahmbhatt

  13. Sepsis, critical illness, communication, swallowing and Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 10
    Amy Freeman-Sanderson, Naomi E. Hammond, Martin B. Brodsky, Kelly Thompson & Bronwyn Hemsley

  14. Digital health autonomy for people with communication or swallowing disability and the Sustainable Development Goal 10 of reducing inequalities and Goal 3 of good health and well-being
    Fiona Given, Meredith Allan, Shaun McCarthy & Bronwyn Hemsley

  15. Screening for unmet social needs in paediatric speech-language pathology to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
    Lauren Hamill, Anna Kearns, Laura Doig, Meghan Hesse, Daina Frederick, Alison Purcell & Sue Woolfenden

  16. Adapting the UNICEF/WHO Nurturing Care Framework for speech-language pathologists to support Sustainable Development Goal 4
    Stephen Camarata, Xueman Lucy Liu, Wendy Lee, Tingyu Li, Fan Jiang & Mark Simms

  17. Amplifying children’s voices: Sustainable Development Goals and inclusive design for education and health architecture
    Jenna K. Gillett-Swan & Lindy Osborne Burton

  18. Supporting deaf learners in Nepal via Sustainable Development Goal 4: Inclusive and equitable quality education in sign languages
    Kristin Snoddon & Joseph J. Murray

  19. Promoting early language development in the Arab world and Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 10 and 17
    Ghada Khattab, Alshaimaa Gaber Salah Abdelwahab, Khalid Al-Shdifat, Zakiyah Alsiddiqi, Caroline Floccia, Edith Kouba Hreich, Cristina McKean, Camille Moitel Messarra, Thair Odeh & Anastasia Trebacz

  20. Community and university partnerships: Integrating Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 10, 11, and 17
    Clare Carroll, Ita Fitzgibbon & Mari Caulfield

  21. Community-based rehabilitation workers in Vietnam need assistance to support communication and swallowing: Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 8, 10, 17
    Marie Atherton, Lindy McAllister, Van Luong Thi Cam & Trang Hoang Thi Huyen

  22. Building the speech-language pathology workforce in Cambodia through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals
    Ruth Bryce, Catherine Easton, Debbie Bong, Chenda Net, Samnang Chan & Jennifer Knight

  23. Diversity in the Australian speech-language pathology workforce: Addressing Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 8, and 10
    Susan Nancarrow, Nicole McGill, Stacey Baldac, Tara Lewis, Anna Moran, Nichola Harris, Trish Johnson & Gail Mulcair

  24. Harnessing automatic speech recognition to realise Sustainable Development Goals 3, 9, and 17 through interdisciplinary partnerships for children with communication disability
    Elise Baker, Weicong Li, Rosemary Hodges, Sarah Masso, Caroline Jones, Yi Guo, Mary Alt, Mark Antoniou, Saeed Afshar, Katrina Tosi & Natalie Munro

  25. Interpersonal violence experienced by people with communication disabilities in Iraq: Sustainable Development Goals 16 and 5
    Caroline Jagoe, Claire F. O’Reilly, Leah E. James, Elaf Khaled, Hashim Alazzawi & Tara Enright

  26. Participation, equality, and justice in Rwanda for people who experience communication disability: Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16
    Helen Barrett & Julie Marshall

  27. Intermediaries in the justice system for people with communication disability: Enacting Sustainable Development Goal 16 in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and New Zealand
    Áine Kearns, Dorothy Clarke, Alan Cusack, Aoife Gallagher, Jenny Humphreys, Sally Kedge & Alayne McKee

  28. Communication services for First Nations peoples after stroke and traumatic brain injury: Alignment of Sustainable Development Goals 3, 16 and 17
    Elizabeth Armstrong, Meaghan Mcallister, Juli Coffin, Melanie Robinson, Sandra Thompson, Judith Katzenellenbogen, Kerri Colegate, Lenny Papertalk, Deborah Hersh, Natalie Ciccone & Jane White

  29. Culturally safe speech-language supports for First Nations children: Achieving Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 8 and 10
    Andrea Salins, Kai Nash, Rona Macniven, Luke Halvorsen, Noeleen Lumby & Catherine McMahon

  30. Assessment equity for remote multilingual Australian Aboriginal students through the lens of Sustainable Development Goals
    Leonard Freeman, Bea Staley & Gillian Wigglesworth

  31. Questions of suitability: The Sustainable Development Goals
    Mershen Pillay, Emma Quigan & Harsha Kathard

  32. Global partnerships to create communication resources addressing Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 8, 10, and 17
    Chelsea L. Sommer, Catherine J. Crowley, Gemma Moya-Galé, Edouardo Adjassin, Evelyn Caceres, Veronica Yu, Kimmy Coseteng-Flaviano, Nkeiruka Obi, Pamela Sheeran, Belinda Bukari, Duncan Musasizi & Miriam Baigorri

  33. Communication partner training for healthcare workers engaging with people with aphasia: Enacting Sustainable Development Goal 17 in Austria, Egypt, Greece, India and Serbia
    Jytte Isaksen, Suzanne Beeke, Analisa Pais, Evangelia-Antonia Efstratiadou, Apoorva Pauranik, Susannah K. Revkin, V. P. Vandana, Fabián Valencia, Jasmina Vuksanović & Caroline Jagoe

  34. Partnerships between Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda and the United Kingdom to address Sustainable Development Goal 17 for people with communication disability
    Ryann Sowden, Arthur Wekhoola & Duncan Musasizi

  35. The importance of SDG 17 and equitable partnerships in maximising participation of persons with communication disabilities and their families
    Shakila Dada, Karen Wylie, Julie Marshall, David Rochus & Josephine Ohenewa Bampoe

  36. Maximise your impact: Sustainable Development Goals-Focussed content in communication intervention and teaching
    Kathryn Crowe, Thora Másdóttir & Marc Daníel Skipstað Volhardt

* The content of this publication has not been approved by the United Nations and does not reflect the views of the United Nations or its officials or Member States.