November 23, 2010 News

ASHA Will Roll Out Associates Program in 2011

ASHA will offer an affiliation category for individuals who work as support personnel in speech-language pathology and audiology that will unfold throughout 2011. This process began in 2009, when the Board of Directors (BOD) passed a motion to establish an affiliation category for support personnel in both professions.

The associate category will be open to individuals who work in a support position under the supervision of an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist or audiologist. Applicants will assert that they will adhere to ASHA's guidelines for speech-language pathology assistants (SLPAs) or support personnel in audiology, perform only tasks that are appropriate for SLPAs or audiology assistants, adhere to state laws and state licensure requirements for SLPAs and audiology assistants, and pay the requisite annual fees.

Associate applicants will be required to have their ASHA-certified supervisor attest to the fact that they have the necessary skills to work in a support position. An applicant who is not employed must have his or her college or university program director sign the application to affirm that the applicant has the necessary skills to function as a support person in speech-language pathology or audiology. The supervising SLP or audiologist will verify that the applicant's job duties are being performed under direct supervision of an ASHA-certified SLP or audiologist.

Associates will receive benefits from their affiliation with ASHA, including networking opportunities, career opportunities, and resources available on the ASHA website. In addition, they will receive The ASHA Leader and haveopportunities to participate in professional development offerings at the annual convention, workshops, and ASHA conferences. Individuals in this affiliation category will not have voting rights, and cannot serve on any standing committees, boards, or councils. They may participate on future ad hoc committees and they are eligible to join special interest divisions.


In early 2011 ASHA will launch a promotional period for individuals who are interested in the associate affiliation. ASHA will gather information about potential associates and develop a list of those who want to apply. Also at that time all SLPs and audiologists who supervise support personnel will be encouraged to share this information with their supervisees.

Continuing professional development is important and a requirement for many state licensures. Therefore ASHA will offer a track for SLPAs at the schools conference in July 2011. A track for support personnel in audiology and speech-language pathology also will be offered at the 2011 ASHA convention in San Diego.

Full implementation of the program begins later in 2011. Watch for continuing coverage in future issues of the Leader. ASHA looks forward to enhancing the relationship between certified SLPs and audiologists and the support personnel they supervise.  

Lemmietta McNeilly, PhD, CCC-SLP, chief staff officer for speech-language pathology, can be reached at

cite as: McNeilly, L. (2010, November 23). ASHA Will Roll Out Associates Program in 2011. The ASHA Leader.

Associate Program Frequently Asked Questions

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.


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