The Importance of Advocacy in OT

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Are you JEDI or DEIB ready?

Where did it start?

For many, the advocacy landing page for informed occupational therapists is the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD).  In 2014, many OTs and several subgroups joined together to form a grassroots coalition that drew off of the “person first” voices and experiences of occupational therapy leaders and members.  This started with a few OTs that made up diversity identity small groups for years. These small groups then realized they could have a stronger impact if they united for advocacy on a local, state, and national level. Fast forward, and COTAD is now an international network of OT practitioners and growing student chapters focused on empowering current and future occupational therapy practitioners to “engage in practices that increase JEDI, anti-racism and anti-oppression for a transformative occupational therapy profession” (COTAD, 2021).


You might be asking what is JEDI, or for that matter what is DEI, and what is DEIB?  The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has held organizational meetings during the annual conference and hosted a webpage dedicated to multicultural, diversity and inclusion (MDI) network groups for over a decade.  However, in 2020, there was a shift to move to association resources that supported diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) even before the COVID19 pandemic impacted all of us.  Some in higher education have advocated for a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) framework to move classroom discussions and support a more inclusive conversation (Harvard Business Publication Education, 2021). Most recently, COTAD has advocated for a justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) framework.

EKU COTAD Chapter founded.

 In the Education in the Health Professions early 2021 issue, Hoyt et al., detailed the JEDI framework and the ambitious timeline in order to support student recruitment and promote more effective teams and teamwork that can retain a workforce with broad representation across the many dimensions of diversity. If you have found advocacy is a passion and want to be part of an action-oriented, change-focused group, please consider joining COTAD as a practitioner. Students can join our newly formed EKU COTAD Chapter that will include pre-occupational science students, occupational science students, entry-level masters and doctoral level occupational therapy students, and post-professional doctorate occupational therapy students.  Events will be a hybrid of virtual and community focused activities.  EKU launched our Person First Virtual Panel on November 11, 2021 with the theme “Men in OT”.


American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). (2021). AOTA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives.

Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD). (2021). About. 

Harvard Business Publishing Education. (2021) Diversity Resources for Educators.

Hoyt, C. R., Pearson, A. C., Skowronski, J., Lancaster, S., Smith, C. R., & Daniel, A., G. S. (2021).Don’t ignore the tipping point: A framework to fuel diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in health-care sciences. Education in Health Professions.

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