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I. Introduction

Background | Council on Academic Accreditation | Recognition and Scope | Role and Value of Accreditation


The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is a national voluntary membership association whose primary scientific and professional focus is on human communication behavior and disorders. Founded in 1925 as the American Academy of Speech Correction, the organization became the American Society for the Study of Disorders of Speech in 1927, the American Speech Correction Association in 1934, and the American Speech and Hearing Association in 1947; it assumed its present name in 1978.

According to ASHA Bylaws, Article II, the purposes of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association are to:

  • encourage basic scientific study of the processes of individual human communication with special reference to speech, language, hearing, and related disorders;
  • promote high standards and ethics for the academic and clinical preparation of individuals entering the discipline of human communication sciences and disorders;
  • promote the acquisition of new knowledge and skills for those within the discipline;
  • promote investigation, prevention, and the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of human communication and related disorders;
  • foster improvement of clinical services and intervention procedures concerning such disorders;
  • stimulate exchange of information among persons and organizations, and to disseminate such information;
  • inform the public about communication sciences and disorders, related disorders, and the professionals who provide services;
  • advocate on behalf of persons with communication and related disorders;
  • promote the individual and collective professional interests of the members of the Association.

ASHA established the American Board of Examiners in Speech Pathology and Audiology (ABESPA) in 1959 to foster the goals of the Association and to ensure the provision of quality services to persons with communication disorders.

ABESPA designated the Educational Training Board, later named the Educational Standards Board (ESB), to evaluate programs that offered master's degrees in audiology and speech language pathology and that submitted voluntary applications for accreditation.

Association Bylaws were amended to replace ABESPA with the Council on Professional Standards in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology (the Standards Council), effective January 1, 1980. The Standards Council, a semi-autonomous body established by ASHA's Legislative Council, was responsible for establishing and monitoring all standards programs of the Association. The standards were implemented by three operating boards—the Educational Standards Board, the Professional Services Board, and the Clinical Certification Board. The Standards Council also arbitrated appeals of decisions rendered by the operating boards.

Council on Academic Accreditation

Effective January 1, 1996, the Educational Standards Board was replaced by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA), having responsibility for oversight of the accreditation and preaccreditation of graduate education programs that prepare entry-level professionals in audiology and speech language pathology (LC 25 94, LC 26 94, LC 27 94, and LC 28-96). The CAA is charged with establishing, defining, monitoring, and implementing accreditation of graduate education programs. (The Standards Council continued responsibility for oversight of professional services accreditation and certification of individual practitioners until January 1, 2001, when it was sunset. At that time these activities were delegated to two semi-autonomous councils, the Council for Professional Services Accreditation1 and the Council for Clinical Certification.)

The following excerpts from the Bylaws of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association relate to the role of the CAA in defining and implementing the standards for accreditation:

Article VIII. Professional Standards and Ethics

8.2 Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
The Association, by action of the Board of Directors, shall establish and maintain a program of academic accreditation. The Association shall establish the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA), which shall define the standards for the accreditation of graduate education programs and apply those standards in the accreditation of such programs. The CAA may also develop standards and processes for approval for programs that prepare support personnel. Members of the CAA shall be appointed following policies established by the CAA and shall have final authority to establish the standards and processes for academic accreditation. Subject to the application of established appeal procedures, the decisions of the CAA concerning the award, withholding, or withdrawal of academic accreditation shall be final.

The specific purposes of the CAA are to:

  • formulate standards for the accreditation of graduate education programs that provide entry-level professional preparation in audiology and/or speech-language pathology;
  • evaluate programs that voluntarily apply for accreditation;
  • grant certificates and recognize those programs deemed to have fulfilled requirements for accreditation; and
  • maintain a registry of holders of such certificates; and prepare and furnish to appropriate persons and agencies lists of accredited programs.

Mission and Goals


The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) is the leader in developing and supporting standards of excellence in academic preparation for the accreditation of graduate education programs in audiology and speech-language pathology. 


The CAA promotes excellence in graduate education in audiology and speech-language pathology through a peer review process of establishing and promulgating accreditation standards and facilitates continuous quality improvement of the programs that it accredits.

The CAA fulfills its mission by:

  • Formulating standards of accreditation that foster continuing improvement and innovation within education programs in audiology and speech-language pathology,
  • Guiding programs in the achievement and maintenance of excellence as addressed in accreditation standards,
  • Creating and implementing standards of accreditation through a peer-review process,
  • Evaluating programs within the context of their established goals and missions,
  • Improving the accreditation process through regular evaluation of CAA's policies and procedures,
  • Collaborating with all stakeholders for continuous quality improvement,
  • Maintaining recognition by the U.S. Secretary of Education, Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and other organizations with oversight responsibility for accreditation.
  • Advocating on behalf of the professions


The Council's composition reflects the active stakeholders in the accreditation process and the beneficiaries of quality education - accredited academic programs, clinical service providers and the public. Representatives should be engaged currently in educational and/or clinical processes that align with the mission and purposes of the accreditation program.

The Council shall consist of 182 voting members and two non voting ex officio representatives, as follows:

  • Eleven (11) academic members from the faculty/staff of accredited educational programs. Individuals must have an earned graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution, and hold a rank of associate professor or above, or be a comparably experienced educator. At least three academic members in audiology and four academic members in speech-language pathology must be research-qualified doctoral level faculty (PhD or EdD). At least one (1) of the academic members shall have significant experience in clinical teaching (supervision). No more than three (3) may have clinical teaching as their primary role.
  • Five (5) clinical practitioners who are employed full-time in non academic settings. Individuals must be directly engaged in a significant manner in the practice of speech-language-hearing services as his/her primary employment function at the time of appointment and have worked in the area that credentials are held for at least five (5) years. At least one (1) of these shall have experience in supervising students and/or clinical fellows. At least one (1) shall be an audiologist and at least two (2) shall be speech language pathologists. Note: An adjunct or complementary appointment to a graduate education program shall not disqualify practitioner members, provided they are employed full time in a non university setting. Employment in more than one position or agency may be combined to meet full-time requirement, i.e., at least 32 hours per week.
  • One (1) public member who is not a member of the professions of audiology and/or speech-language pathology. In addition, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, a "representative of the public" is a person who is not a) an employee, member of the governing board, owner, or shareholder of or consultant to a program that either is accredited or has applied for accreditation by the CAA; b) a member of any trade association or membership organization related to, affiliated with, or associated with the CAA; or c) a spouse, parent, child, or sibling of an individual identified in a) or b).
  • The ASHA Executive Director or his/her staff designee and the chair of the body that establishes ASHA certification standards shall be nonvoting, ex officio members.

The Council shall consist of voting members with the following qualifications:

  • Seven (7) shall represent the area of hearing, six (6) of whom must hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence in audiology.
  • Ten (10) shall represent the area of speech-language pathology, nine (9) of whom must hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence in speech-language pathology.
  • No more than one (1) individual from a specific educational institution or clinical facility may serve on the Council at the same time.
    Note: Adjunct or complementary appointment to an institution or facility shall not disqualify individuals to serve as a voting member on the Council provided they meet all other criteria for service.
  • At least nine (9) shall have served as academic program accreditation site visitors.

Election of CAA Members

A five-person CAA Nominating Committee, appointed annually in accordance with LC 26-94, shall have responsibility for preparing the slates for members of the CAA. Two members shall represent practitioners; one shall be an audiologist and one a speech language pathologist. Two members shall represent accredited academic programs; one shall be an audiologist and one a speech language pathologist. One member, who will serve as chair of the committee, shall be an outgoing or former member of the CAA.

The Nominating Committee identifies vacancies on the CAA to be filled in a given year, solicits and vets applications, and prepares slates of nominees for each type of vacancy on the council.

  • Academic members are determined from the slate by election by all accredited academic programs in good standing. Programs that have not paid their annual fees by the final due date will not be eligible to submit a voting ballot for any academic vacancies on the CAA during that year. Programs in candidacy are not eligible to vote.
  • Practitioner members are determined from the slate by the ASHA Board of Directors.
  • The public member is selected by the CAA Nominating Committee.

Recognition and Scope

The CAA has been recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) since 1967 and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA, formerly the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation) since 1964 for the accreditation and preaccreditation ('Accreditation Candidate') throughout the United States of education programs in audiology and/or speech-language pathology leading to the first professional or clinical degree at the master's or doctoral level.

The CAA scope of accreditation was clarified by both recognition agencies in 1997 to include accreditation and preaccreditation ("Accreditation Candidate") of such programs. It was further clarified in 2002 (ED) and 2014 (CHEA) to also include the accreditation of these programs offered via distance education.

As required by ED for continued recognition, the CAA will provide to the Department a copy of its annual report to ASHA's Board of Directors (including a data summary of its major accrediting activities during the previous year), a copy of its list of accredited and candidacy graduate education programs at least twice annually, and any proposed change in its policies, procedures, or accreditation standards that might alter the CAA's scope of recognition or compliance with the criteria for recognition.

Role and Value of Accreditation

ASHA's interest in accreditation is based upon the belief that all professions that provide services to the public have an obligation to ensure, as far as possible, that services provided by its members are of high professional quality. One effective way in which this obligation can be met is by establishing appropriate standards of educational quality and by identifying publicly those educational programs that meet or exceed these standards. Accreditation is intended to protect the interests of students; benefit the public; and improve the quality of teaching, learning, research, and professional practice. Through its accreditation standards, the accrediting body encourages institutional freedom, ongoing improvement of educational institutions and training programs, sound educational experimentation, and constructive innovation.

In accord with the CAA's purpose as noted above, the Council conducts a formal review of the accreditation standards every 5 to 8 years. This formal review may or may not result in revisions of the standards. If the CAA recommends a revision of the standards, proposed standards will be distributed for public comment to all appropriate communities of interest. After all comments have been considered and final revisions made in the document, the approved standards will be printed in ASHA publications with the effective date of implementation. At least 6 months must elapse between the date of publication of the information and the effective date of the new standards.

The accreditation process involves evaluating programs in light of their own education models and goals and judging the degree to which a program has achieved those goals and objectives. Therefore, the CAA does not explicitly prescribe the processes by which the program's outcomes should be reached; rather it evaluates a program's success in achieving outcomes and goals that are consistent with its stated mission (including religious mission, if relevant). If a program's goals and model of training are clearly and accurately described, the different "publics" served by this program should be able to make intelligent and informed decisions about the quality of the program and the students it trains.

  1. The Council for Professional Service Accreditation was sunset December 31, 2001.
  2. The ASHA Board of Directors approved the expansion of the CAA from 14 to 18 members in May 2008. The four new positions were approved to be phased in as follows: one academic SLP to initiate term in 2009; one academic SLP, one academic audiologist and one practitioner SLP to initiate terms in 2010.

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