Peer Review: Definition and Description of Language Proficiency

In response to concerns from state licensing boards about the English proficiency skills of internationally trained professionals providing clinical services in the US, the International Issues Board (IIB) submitted a request in 2014 to the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC), to increase international applicants’ English proficiency passing scores for ASHA Certification. Upon further discussion, the Multicultural Issues Board (MIB) concluded that any proposed recommendations/requirements should raise the level of linguistic competence but should not:

  • define linguistic competence solely for internationally trained applicants;
  • bar professionals who are well qualified to provide needed services;
  • adversely impact ASHA’s efforts related to international engagement and attracting service providers from diverse backgrounds.

In 2016, the MIB and IIB participated in a discussion facilitated by Edie Hapner, BOD liaison for both groups and 2016 Vice President for Planning. The two Boards supported developing a joint resolution to establish the Ad Hoc Committee on Language Proficiency.

In January 2017, the Board of Directors (BOD) approved the resolution (BOD 1-2017) to establish an ad hoc committee to define language proficiency, provide recommendations to the BOD regarding the feasibility of establishing a required level of language proficiency for clinical practice, and to identify mechanisms to assess applicants’ language proficiency skills, including spoken, written, manually coded language use.

Members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Language Proficiency (hereinafter, “the Ad Hoc Committee”) are: Cate Crowley, JD, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, Chair; Rosa Abreu, MBA, MA, CCC-A; Sue Ann Erdman, MA, CCC-A; Cavin Fertil, MS, CCC-SLP; Nidhi Mahendra, PhD, CCC-SLP; Monica Marruffo, MEd, SLP-A; Giselle Nunez, MA, CCC-SLP; Benigno Valles, PhD, CCC-SLP; Rebecca Weaver, PhD, CCC-SLP; and Vicki Deal-Williams, MA, CCC-SLP, FASAE, CAE, ex officio.

In crafting the definition and description, the Ad Hoc Committee has reviewed and consulted on language proficiency guidance developed by a variety of organizations, evaluated practices for admission and credentialing in numerous professions, and reviewed research related to language proficiency measures and assessment. 

Committee members are now seeking member input via this Peer Review of the DRAFT Definition and Description of Language Proficiency [PDF].

Once finalized, the Definition/Description will be included in a report to the Board of Directors along with recommendations related to:

  1. Establishing a consistent and uniform standard of language proficiency for all applicants for ASHA certification
  2. Maintaining the existing language proficiency requirements for graduates of CAA-accredited programs, where English is the language of instruction
  3. Further exploring the possibility of a profession-specific English proficiency exam (e.g. Occupational English Test) for determining English proficiency of Audiologists and/or SLPs trained outside of the US
  4. Continued utilization of the TOEFL or IELTS for applicants from non-CAA accredited programs, or those where the language of instruction is not English, indicating demonstration of a level of English proficiency that is consistent with the existing language proficiency requirements for graduates of CAA-accredited programs
  5. Establishing an ad hoc committee to determine ways to demonstrate proficiency for bilingual service delivery and providing services in languages other than English

Please review the document [PDF] and complete the peer review form at your earliest convenience, but no later than August 20, 2018. The deadline will enable the Ad Hoc Committee to review comments and make any necessary revisions prior to its consideration by the Board of Directors. Feel free to forward this message to other individuals who may wish to participate in the peer review. Any questions can be directed to Vicki Deal-Williams at

The members of the Ad Hoc Committee look forward to your input.

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