Facebook: WSLHA–Washington Speech Language and Hearing Association
Established: Jan. 1, 1960
Contact: Karen Simpson, president, firstname.lastname@example.org
How are you making a difference in your members' lives?
We have two main goals: advocacy and professional development. We maintain a presence in our statehouse through our lobbyist. We have guarded against encroachment on our scope of practice and have been proactive about coverage for speech and hearing services in Washington state's plans for universal health care. Our state, like many others, is changing the evaluation instrument for teachers, and WSLHA is providing information from ASHA about the new evaluation system for public school speech-language pathologists.
WSLHA holds a fall convention, where our members receive valuable professional development along with networking opportunities. This year, we also offered spring workshops on both the east and west sides of our state for SLPs working in public schools.
What is the most challenging situation for your members?
The shortage of clinicians and doctoral-level researchers and professors is our biggest challenge. We know that this difficulty is not unique to our state, but there are unfilled positions in almost every area of practice—especially schools. Our preparation programs, with the possible exception of the University of Washington, have difficulty recruiting people with PhDs to their faculty.
What is your association's proudest accomplishment?
The achievement of licensure! For many years, the private-practice/clinical/medical professionals in speech-language pathology were not regulated at all. In the 1990s, we were able to achieve voluntary registration, which was not satisfactory for either consumer protection or promotion of our professions. As of January 2003, the professions are now fully licensed through the State Board of Hearing and Speech. And in 2009, WSLHA advocated for and achieved licensing requirements for speech-language pathology assistants.
What is a particularly memorable event in your association's history and how did it come about?
The signing of the SLP licensure law stands out clearly. Although the visual image is the traditional picture of the governor signing the bill, the story behind the picture is the cumulative efforts of hundreds of volunteers over 20 years. It is a reminder that advocacy requires patience and perseverance, as projects or goals that require legislation rarely are achieved in a short period of time.
Please share a successful advocacy or recruitment strategy.
WHSLA, like so many other state associations, would like to increase our membership. We are intentionally building our student base and listening to our young professionals—those in the first five years of their careers—so that we can respond to their interests. We believe if students establish membership in the association, they will build feelings of loyalty and investment that will carry into their professional lives. We know that we also have to continue momentum and highlight our benefits to appeal to speech-language pathology and audiology professionals.
What should every communication sciences and disorders professional in the state know about your association?
We are advocating for our professions actively and continually. We are using a web-based format for meetings to eliminate the costs of face-to-face meetings. This cost-savings is one example of responsible use of our members' dues, which are low cost and a great value. The work of our lobbyist—paid out of member dues income—benefits all the professionals in the state, whether or not they are members. We have a well-designed website with a wealth of information for professionals. We are the “go-to” organization for state-level policymakers for questions related to speech-language pathology or audiology.