Q: Why now? Has something changed that ASHA decided to add this associate category at this time?
A number of years ago ASHA offered credentialing and training programs for support personnel, but later determined that a credentialing program was not feasible due to financial considerations. However, ASHA has continued to research the benefits of allowing CSD support personnel to affiliate with ASHA without a certification program. The Board of Directors approved this new category because the data supported the feasibility of an affiliation-only program.
Q: Will associates have the same rights as members?
No. Associates are a different category of affiliation with ASHA. Individuals joining ASHA as associates will have a number of valuable benefits, but they will not have the same rights as members. For example, they will not be able to vote or hold elected office, and there will be no certification program.
Q: I'm worried about encroachment and that associates, who are assistants, will say they are members of ASHA, and that school districts may give them more responsibility.
SLPAs and audiology assistants will not replace SLPs or audiologists. Rather, they can support clinical services provided by clinical professionals. ASHA guidelines ensure that speech-language pathology and audiology services provided to the public are of the highest quality and that SLPs and audiologists will continue to be responsible for maintaining this quality of service. According to ASHA guidelines and state licensure laws, SLPAs may not be employed without an SLP supervisor. ASHA guidelines and most state laws limit the number of assistants an SLP may supervise and define boundaries for how assistants are used. This program will give ASHA and our members a stronger, more credible voice in explaining the proper use of support personnel.
Q: Will the associates program be applied any differently in audiology?
No. Audiologists are using support personnel to ensure both the accessibility and the highest quality of audiology care while addressing productivity and cost-benefit concerns. The roles and tasks of audiology support personnel will be assigned only by supervising audiologists, who will provide appropriate training that is competency-based and specific to job performance. Supervision will be comprehensive, periodic, and documented. The supervising audiologist maintains the legal and ethical responsibilities for all assigned audiology activities provided by support personnel See ASHA's online documents for more information.
Q: Will ASHA have any type of credentialing program for associates?
No. ASHA will not credential support personnel who are associates of ASHA. Many states, however, offer licensure or certification.