top of page


Respect The Dialect exists to raise awareness and offer continuing education on issues pertaining to African American English (AAE) and its use in educational and professional settings.  This forum offers resources and support to speech-language pathologists and educators who serve AAE-speaking students.   ​

Respect The Dialect began in 2019 as a Facebook group.  The group was created by Dr. Latimer-Hearn and was designed to promote awareness and understanding of the African American English (AAE) dialect.  In addition, the group offers support to educators and speech-language pathologists serving AAE-speaking communities.  As our nation becomes increasingly diverse the occurrence of cultural-linguistic mismatch in the educational setting becomes more apparent.  ​

Respect The Dialect has grown and now offers a variety of supports and resources to contemporary educators and speech-language pathologists seeking to improve outcomes for AAE-speaking students.

Dr.  Dionna Latimer-Hearn received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in French Studies from Northwestern University.  She has served as a multilingual speech-language pathologist and educational consultant since 2002, holding positions in France, Illinois, Japan, Maryland, and Texas.  She currently works as an educational consultant and continuing education provider for a number of organizations in the US and abroad.  Dr. Latimer-Hearn received her Doctor of Philosophy Degree with distinction in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations at Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore, MD.  She is a recipient of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Minority Dissertation Fellowship Award, the World Education Research Association (WERA) Inaugural Innovative Poster Award and the CREATE Doctoral Scholarship.  She is the author of the Book Unexpected Places and is the Founder and Education Director of the REACT Initiative, Inc. a Christian nonprofit organization that advocates for equity in education.


Dr. Yolanda Holt received a BS in Political Science from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina; a MEd, in Communication Sciences and Disorders from North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, North Carolina; and a PhD, in Speech and Hearing Science from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Prior to joining the faculty at ECU Dr. Holt served as a practicing Speech Language Pathologist in Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina, serving both children and adults in home, school, and hospital settings. In addition, Dr. Holt served on the faculty of NCCU.

Research interests focus on the dialect variation in African American English and Southern American English. Dr. Holt is currently preparing series of experiments on speech production and perception for eastern North Carolina speakers.


Ms. Joy Lennon graduated with a Master of Arts in Speech and Hearing Science from Ohio State University in 2005. After graduation, she completed research with the Carolina Communication Project at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. Clinically, Joy has worked as a speech-language pathologist, serving children Birth through 21 in preschool, private/non-public schools, public schools, and in private practice. The majority of her clinical experiences have taken place in schools in large, urban metropolitan settings. Joy is the owner of a speech-language therapy private practice, and she continues to mentor colleagues, students, and prospective speech and hearing science students, as well as supervise clinical fellows in the school setting. In addition to training in various clinical techniques and programs specific to communication and speech-language pathology, Joy also has training in cultural diversity and sensitivity, childhood trauma, LGBTQ+ populations, collaborative problem solving process, teacher classroom management, Growth Mindset, and teaching youth yoga and mindfulness.



bottom of page