SIG Volunteer Leadership Handbook
XIII of the Bylaws of the
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recognizes
the Special Interest Groups as part of ASHA.
Special Interest Groups (now referred to as SIGs)
program evolved in response to the diverse interests and needs of
members of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
in narrow subtopics and practices within and across the discipline
of communication sciences and disorders. The program was
created to promote specific professional interests among members,
develop communication and networking in diverse professional
settings, identify and convey concerns and needs to the
Association's governance, and assist in policy formation.
The SIGs are integral to and integrated within ASHA. SIG
activities are coordinated with other Association activities under
the guidance of the Board of Special Interest Group Coordinators
(BSIGC), the ASHA Board of Directors (BOD) through the liaisons,
and the Special Interest Groups program within the National
Since the inception of the program, through grassroots initiatives, SIGs have been established for the exchange of professional and scientific information. These groups offer Association members the means to
- Affiliate with one another to promote specific professional interests
- Develop communication and networking in diverse professional settings
- Identify and convey concerns and needs to the ASHA Board of Directors (BOD)
- Assist in ASHA policy formulation related to their respective areas of interest, practice, and expertise
Affiliation with one or more SIGs is a benefit of ASHA membership, and the SIGs are dedicated to the professional concerns of those members and of the Association as a whole. The SIGs serve as a resource to the Association for the purpose of carrying out activities and programs designed to address the needs of the discipline and, ultimately, its clients—persons with communication impairments.
Affiliation with a SIG provides individual members with exciting and unique opportunities for personal and professional growth, including the opportunity to develop leadership skills. Since the Special Interest program began, a number of individuals elected as officers or serving in key volunteer roles have gone on to hold elected office on the ASHA national leadership bodies.
The SIGs function as an integral part of the Association and are not separate entities. Operations are administered under the jurisdiction of the Association through the BOD. All SIG Coordinating Committees and the Board of Special
Interest Group Coordinators shall conform to their Operational
Procedures, ASHA Bylaws, and all other governing documents of the
"Making effective communication, a human right, accessible and achievable for all by engaging ASHA members in communities that foster professional excellence"
The mission of the ASHA Special Interest Groups (SIGs) is to advance the Association mission by engaging members in SIGs that foster the interchange of information among ASHA and the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) members and affiliates who share common professional interests.
Between 1986 and 1990, the Special Interest Divisions Program was created primarily as a value-added benefit for ASHA members. Over the years, the program enjoyed great success in terms of steadily expanding membership and programs offering benefits in many areas (e.g., professional development opportunities, Web events, and financial and other support for ASHA, National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, and ASHFoundation grants, programs). These programs served not only Division affiliates, but the broader membership and its related professional entities (and by extension, the discipline of communication sciences and disorders and its clients).
In 1991, A Plan for Special Interest Divisions and Study Sections—establishing the Association's Special Interest Divisions Program—was disseminated.
Development of Special Interest Divisions/Groups and Contributors
The following is a chronology of events that established and modified the special interest program:
1986: Ad Hoc Committee on Specialty Recognition (Richard M. Flower, Chair; Patricia R. Cole; Nancy P. Huffman; Judith R. Johnston; Raymond Kent; Wayne O. Olsen; Betty Jane Philips; Frederick T. Spahr, ex officio; David E. Yoder) develops concept paper for approval to develop a plan for special interest divisions. Legislative Council (LC) endorses (LC 35-86) the concept of specialty recognition and the development of a plan for specialty recognition by the Association.
1987: Ad Hoc Committee on Specialty Recognition (Richard M. Flower, Chair; H. Patricia Heffernan; Nancy P. Huffman; Judith R. Johnston; Wayne O. Olsen; Richard K. Peach; Betty Jane Philips; Barbara B. Shadden; Frederick T. Spahr, ex officio) surveys Legislative Councilors regarding specialty recognition. Final plan is developed and submitted.
1988: LC approves (LC 21-88) the Plan for Special Interest Divisions and Study Sections. The charge to the Ad Hoc Committee on Specialty Recognition is thus completed.
1989: Ad Hoc Committee to Implement Special Interest Divisions (Barbara B. Shadden, Chair; Larry E. Dalzell; Lynette R. Goldberg, ex officio; Judith S. Gravel, Nancy P. Huffman; Sandra R. Ulrich; Peggy S. Williams, ex officio) is formed and charged to develop a plan to implement the approved plan (LC 21-88). A proposed implementation plan is developed.
1989: Implementation plan, including budget projections for 1990 and 1991, developed by the Ad Hoc Committee to Implement Special Interest Divisions is submitted to the Executive Board (EB). EB appoints a three-member executive subcommittee (Robert L. Douglass, Sandra C. Holley, Roy A. Koenigsknecht) to study the implementation plan and financial implications and to present a report at the October EB meeting.
1989: Executive subcommittee report is presented in October. EB approves (EB 158-89) the concepts incorporated in the requested report, entitled Revisions in Implementation Plan—Special Interest Divisions, and agrees to initiate action.
1990: President assigns responsibility for setting the direction of the next sequence of events to Vice President for Clinical Affairs Teris K. Schery and Vice President for Educational and Scientific Affairs Theodore J. Glattke.
1990: The Committee on Committees develops a slate of nominees for the 11 positions of Interim Coordinators of the Special Interest Divisions. Following revision of the slate of nominees, the EB gives its approval.
1990: Interim Coordinators are confirmed. The Coordinators are:
- Noma B. Anderson
- Louise M. Colodzin
- Lawrence L. Feth
- Rena Glaser
- Leslie J. Gonzalez Rothi
- Hugo H. Gregory
- David P. Kuehn
- Patricia G. Larkins
- Nickola W. Nelson
- Barbara E. Weinstein
- Frank B. Wilson
Barbara B. Shadden is appointed as Chair of the Interim Council.
Meetings of the Interim Council of Division Coordinators are held in August and September. An operational handbook is developed, an affiliation brochure is sent to all members of the Association, and plans to hold elections early in 1991 are finalized.
1990: The Legislative Council approves the amendment of the Bylaws of ASHA to incorporate the governing policies of Special Interest Divisions and Study Sections.
1990: The Legislative Council approves the recognition of the Board of Division Coordinators as a standing board of the Association under the revised governance structure, monitored by the Vice President for Professional Practices.
1991: A five-member Steering Committee is elected for each division by the respective affiliates of each division. Each Steering Committee then elects a Division Coordinator. The Coordinators form the Board of Division Coordinators. The Board of Division Coordinators replaces the Interim Council of Division Coordinators.
1991: The Legislative Council approves the creation of two additional special interest divisions, Division 12, Augmentative and Alternative Communications and Division 13, Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders bringing the total to 13 (LC 47-91).
1992: The Legislative Council approves the change of name and description of Division 10 and affirms that all special interest divisions must be financially self-sufficient by December 31, 1993.
Legislative Council approves the name change of Special Interest
Division 5 from Speech Anatomy and Physiology and Structurally
Based Speech Disorders to Speech Science and Orofacila Disorders
1993: The Legislative Council approves the merger of two divisions (Language Acquisition and Disorders of Language Acquisition and Language Learning and Education) to form a new Division 1, Language Learning and Education (LC33-93).
1994: The Legislative Council approves the creation of a further special interest division (Division 14, CLD; LC 11-94).
1995: The Legislative Council approves the establishment of a special interest division on gerontology (Division 15; LC 6-95).
1996: The Legislative Council approves the establishment of a special interest division on issues in higher education (Division 10; LC 22-96).
1996: The Legislative Council approves the establishment of "Associate" membership categories for NSSLHA members, consumers, and International Affiliates of ASHA (LC 9-96).
1997: The Executive Board approves membership affiliation for ASHA special interest divisions and amends ASHA Bylaws (EB 61-97).
1997: The Executive Board approves a resolution for special interest divisions to sell subscriptions to newsletters for a rate not less than the affiliate dues rate (EB 45-97).
1997: The Legislative Council approves amending Association Bylaws for associate affiliate status (LC 12-97).
1997: The Legislative Council approves the definition of consumer associate affiliate (LC 13-97).
1999: The Executive Board approves the establishment of the Special Interest Division on School-Based Issues (Division 16; EB 45-99)
2000: The Legislative Council grants full membership on the Board of Division Coordinators voting privileges to a National Student Speech Language Hearing Association member (LC 13-2000).
2000: The Executive Board reduces the annual fee for NSSLHA affiliate from $20 to $10 (EB 28-2000).
2006: The Executive Board reduces the annual fee for ASHA International Affiliates from $45 to $35 (EB 04-2006).
2008: BOD establishes the Task Force on Special Interest Divisions Structure, Programs, and Operations to conduct a review and evaluation of the ASHA Special Interest Divisions structure, programs, and processes (BOD 05-2008). The Task Force comprises
- two representatives from the Board of Directors,
- two representatives from the Financial Planning Board,
- six representatives from the Special Interest Division Board of Division Coordinators (BDC),
- the immediate past BDC chair,
- National Office staff designated by the Executive Director.
2009: BOD approves the establishment of Special Interest Division 17, Global Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders (BOD 24-2009).
2010: BOD approves the modification of the title and mission of Special Interest Division 8 from Hearing Conservation and Occupational Audiology to Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance (BOD 04-2010).
2010: BOD approves the establishment of Special Interest Division 18, Telepractice (BOD 22-2010).
2010: BOD adopts recommendations described in the report "Task Force on Special Interest Divisions Structure, Programs, and Operations, October 2010;" (BOD 28-2010); see Task Force and Restructuring.
2011: Transition from Special Interest Divisions to Special Interest Groups begins.
2011: Special Interest Program's 20th anniversary is celebrated at the ASHA Convention in San Diego.
2011: BOD adopts procedures for forming, modifying, and dissolving a special interest group, as described in the report Adding, Modifying, and Dissolving Special Interest Groups, 2011 (BOD 28-2011).
2012: In recognition of the specific knowledge and skills required of the position, the SIG Perspectives Editor, an appointed position, was made a full voting member of the SIG Coordinating Committee.
2012: SPEB and BSIGC formalize Convention Named Lectures and Tribute Sessions.
2012: SPEB and BSIGC formalize SIG representation on Convention Topic Committees.
2013: BOD approves the creation of a Professional Development Manager (PDM) position on each Special Interest Group Coordinating Committee (BOD 21-2013).
Task Force and Restructuring
In October 2008, the Task Force on Division Structure, Programs, and Operations was created and assigned the task of examining and making recommendations to modify the existing program to (a) foster a community-based approach, (b) increase member involvement, (c) align goals with the Association's strategic plans, and (d) fully integrate the divisions into the Association financially and programmatically. On June 10, 2010, the Task Force on Special Interest Divisions Structure, Programs, and Operations (TF) submitted its report to the ASHA Board of Directors (BOD). The BOD discussed the report at its June and October 2010 meetings. In arriving at its decisions regarding whether and how to implement TF recommendations, the BOD carefully considered the feasibility of specific recommendations in light of current and future needs of the ASHA membership, including affiliates of the special interest divisions, as well as the projected fiscal health of the Association.
A letter from ASHA
Past President Tommie Robinson was
sent to all ASHA members addressing the resolution approved by the ASHA Board
of Directors, based on the Task Force report on Division program restructuring
and the feedback provided by ASHA members. The letter includes the full Task Force Report [PDF],
Force Reccomendations, and Frequently Asked Questions.