Public health approaches to communication disability challenge the profession of speech-language pathology (SLP) to reconsider both frames of reference for practice and models of education. This paper reviews the impetus for public health approaches to communication disability and considers how public health is, and could be, incorporated into SLP education, both now and in the future. The paper describes tensions between clinical services, which have become increasingly specialized, and public health approaches that offer a broader view of communication disability and communication disability prevention. It presents a discussion of these tensions and asserts that public health approaches to communication are themselves a specialist field, requiring specific knowledge and skills. The authors suggest the use of the term ‘communication disability public health' to refer to this type of work and offer a preliminary definition in order to advance discussion. Examples from three countries are provided of how some SLP degree programmes are integrating public health into the SLP curriculum. Alternative models of training for communication disability public health that may be relevant in the future in different contexts and countries are presented, prompting the SLP profession to consider whether communication disability public health is a field of practice for speech-language pathologists or whether it has broader workforce implications. The paper concludes with some suggestions for the future which may advance thinking, research and practice in communication disability public health.

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