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Ethics

Assistants Code of Conduct Effective June 1, 2020

Table of Contents

Preamble

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA; hereafter, also known as "The Association") has been committed to a framework of common principles and standards of practice since ASHA's inception in 1925. This commitment was formalized in 1952 as the Association's first Code of Ethics for audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists.

Now that ASHA has established the Assistants Certification Program, a code of conduct was created to guide certified assistants in their clinical practice. Preservation of the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct is vital to the responsible practice of audiology and speech-language pathology assistants. The Assistants Code of Conduct (hereafter, "Code of Conduct") is intended to ensure the welfare of the consumer and to protect the reputation and integrity of the professions.  

The Code of Conduct is a framework and focused guide in support of day-to-day decision making related to assistants' conduct. The Code of Conduct is partly obligatory and disciplinary, and partly aspirational and descriptive, in that it defines the assistant's role. This Code of Conduct sets forth the fundamental principles and rules and is applicable to the following individuals:

  • Audiology assistants holding the Certified Audiology Assistant (C-AA)
  • Speech-language pathology assistants holding the Certified Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (C-SLPA)
  • Applicants for assistants certification

The Code of Conduct is designed to provide guidance to assistants certification applicants and certified assistants in their roles as assistants. The three principles underlying the Code of Conduct are in the following areas: (1) responsibility to persons served professionally, (2) responsibility to the public, and (3) responsibility for professional relationships.

Because the Code of Conduct is not intended to address specific situations and is not inclusive of all possible conduct-related ethical dilemmas, assistants are expected to follow the written provisions and to uphold the spirit and purpose of the Code of Conduct. Audiology and speech-language pathology assistants are encouraged to seek additional advice or consultation in instances where the guidance of the Code of Conduct may not be definitive.

The Code of Conduct establishes that assistants are not independent practitioners. Accordingly, assistants must be supervised by appropriately-credentialed audiologists or speech-language pathologists consistent with state licensing laws and/or with ASHA's Code of Ethics.

By holding ASHA assistants certification, or through application for such, all individuals are automatically subject to the jurisdiction of the ASHA Board of Ethics for Code of Conduct complaint adjudication. Adherence to the Code of Conduct and its enforcement results in respect for the discipline and positive outcomes for individuals who benefit from the work of audiology and speech-language pathology assistants, audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists.  

Terminology

ASHA Standards and Ethics
The mailing address for self-reporting in writing is American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Standards and Ethics, 2200 Research Blvd., #313, Rockville, MD 20850.
advertising
Any form of communication across a variety of platforms, including social media, with the public about services, therapies, products, or publications.
confidentiality
The duty of an individual to refrain from sharing confidential information with others through any verbal, written, or electronic means, including social media platforms, except with the express written consent of the other party or as required by law.
conflict of interest
An opposition between the private interests and the official or professional responsibilities of a person in a position of trust, power, and/or authority.
crime
Any felony; or any misdemeanor involving dishonesty, physical harm to the person or property of another, or a threat of physical harm to the person or property of another. For more details, see the "Disclosure Information" on www.ashaassistants.org.
fraud
Any act, expression, omission, or concealment—the intent of which is either actual or constructive—calculated to deceive others to their disadvantage.
gender identity
One's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither—how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.
jurisdiction
The "personal jurisdiction" and authority of the ASHA Board of Ethics over an individual holding ASHA assistants certification, or an applicant for assistants certification, regardless of the individual's geographic location.
know, known, or knowingly
Having or reflecting knowledge.
may vs. shall
May denotes an allowance for discretion; shall denotes no discretion.
misrepresentation
Any statement by words or other conduct that, under the circumstances, amounts to an assertion that is false or erroneous (i.e., not in accordance with the facts); any statement made with conscious ignorance or a reckless disregard for the truth.
national origin
Encompasses related aspects, including ancestry, culture, language, dialect, citizenship, and immigration status.
negligence
Breaching of a duty owed to another, which occurs because of a failure to conform to a requirement, and this failure has caused harm to another individual, which led to damages to this person(s); failure to exercise the care toward others that a reasonable or prudent person would take in the circumstances, or taking actions that such a reasonable person would not.
nolo contendere
No contest.
plagiarism
False representation of another person's idea, research, presentation, result, or product as one's own through irresponsible citation, attribution, or paraphrasing; ethical misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.
publicly sanctioned
A formal disciplinary action of public record, excluding actions due to insufficient continuing education, checks returned for insufficient funds, or late payment of fees not resulting in unlicensed practice.
reasonable or reasonably
Supported or justified by fact or circumstance and being in accordance with reason, fairness, duty, or prudence.
self-report
A professional obligation of self-disclosure that requires (a) notifying ASHA Standards and Ethics and (b) mailing a hard copy of a certified document to ASHA Standards and Ethics (address for self-reporting is provided in the second item of this Terminology section, above). All self-reports are subject to a separate ASHA Certification review process, which, depending on the seriousness of the self-reported information, takes additional processing time.
shall vs. may
Shall denotes no discretion; may denotes an allowance for discretion.
written
Encompasses electronic and hard-copy writings or communications, including communication through websites and other online networking platforms.

Principle of Conduct I

Assistants shall honor their responsibility to hold paramount the welfare of persons they serve professionally.

Conduct Fundamentals

  1. Assistants shall engage only in those activities delegated by the supervising audiologist or speech-language pathologist and permitted by local, state, or federal regulations.

  2. Assistants who hold the C-AA or C-SLPA shall engage in only those work areas that are within the scope of their competence, considering their certification status, education, training, and experience.

  3. Assistants shall not discriminate in the delivery of their services on the basis of the following characteristics, which include but are not limited to age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic or veteran status.

  4. Assistants shall accurately represent the intended purpose of a service or product and shall abide by established guidelines for the clinical practice of assistants.

  5. Assistants shall protect the confidentiality and security of records of professional services provided and products dispensed as directed by the supervising audiologist or speech-language pathologist. In consultation with the supervising audiologist or speech-language pathologist, access to these records shall be allowed only when doing so is necessary to protect the welfare of the person or of the community, is legally authorized, or is otherwise required by law.

  6. Assistants shall maintain timely and accurate records about services provided and products dispensed as directed by the supervising audiologist or speech-language pathologist.

  7. Assistants whose practice is adversely affected by substance abuse, addiction, or other health-related conditions shall seek professional assistance and, where appropriate, withdraw from the affected areas of practice.

  8. Assistants who have knowledge that a colleague is unable to provide professional services with reasonable skill and safety shall report this information to the appropriate authority, internally if a mechanism exists and, otherwise, externally.

  9. Assistants shall provide reasonable notice to the supervising audiologist or speech-language pathologist in the event that they can no longer provide clinical services.

  10. Assistants shall enhance and refine their professional competence and expertise through engagement in lifelong learning applicable to their professional activities and skills.

  11. Assistants shall make use of technology and instrumentation consistent with accepted professional guidelines in their areas of practice under the direction of the supervising audiologist or speech-language pathologist.

  12. Assistants shall not misrepresent their credentials and shall fully inform those they serve of their role and the role and professional credentials of their supervising audiologist or speech-language pathologist. 

Principle of Conduct II

Individuals shall honor their responsibility to the public by providing accurate information in all communications and by providing services with honesty, integrity, and compassion.

Conduct Fundamentals

  1. Assistants shall not misrepresent services provided.

  2. Assistants shall not defraud, or participate in fraud, through intent, ignorance, or negligence or engage in any scheme to defraud in connection with obtaining payment, reimbursement, or grants and contracts for services provided, research conducted, or products dispensed.

  3. Assistants' statements to the public shall not contain misrepresentations when advertising, announcing, and promoting their services.

  4. Assistants shall not knowingly make false financial or nonfinancial statements and shall complete all materials honestly and without omission.

  5. Assistants shall not engage in dishonesty, negligence, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

  6. Assistants shall avoid engaging in conflicts of interest whereby personal, financial, or other considerations have the potential to influence or compromise judgement and objectivity.

Principle of Conduct III

Assistants shall maintain collaborative and harmonious interprofessional and intraprofessional relationships.

Conduct Fundamentals

  1. Assistants shall work collaboratively with audiologists and speech-language pathologists and/or members of other professions to deliver the highest quality of care.

  2. Assistants shall not engage in any form of conduct that adversely reflects on assistants or on the assistant's fitness to provide services.

  3. Applicants for assistants certification shall not knowingly make false statements and shall complete all application and disclosure materials honestly and without omission.

  4. Assistants shall not engage in any form of harassment, power abuse, or sexual harassment.

  5. Assistants shall not engage in sexual activities with individuals served (other than a spouse or other individual with whom a prior consensual relationship exists).

  6. Assistants shall reference the source when using other persons' ideas, research, presentations, results, or products in written, oral, or any other media presentation or summary. To do otherwise constitutes plagiarism.

  7. Assistants shall not discriminate in their relationships with colleagues, and with members of other professions on the basis of factors including but not limited to age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic or veteran status.  

  8. Assistants with evidence that the Assistants Code of Conduct may have been violated by a certified assistant(s) have the responsibility to work collaboratively to resolve the situation where possible and, where that fails or is not feasible, shall inform the Board of Ethics through its established procedures.

  9. Assistants with evidence that the ASHA Code of Ethics may have been violated by an ASHA member or by an ASHA-certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist have the responsibility to work collaboratively to resolve the situation where possible and, where that fails or is not feasible, shall inform the Board of Ethics through its established procedures.

  10. Assistants shall report members of other professions who they know have violated standards of care to the appropriate professional licensing authority or board, other professional regulatory body, or professional association when such violation compromises the welfare of persons served.

  11. Assistants shall not file or encourage others to file complaints that disregard or ignore facts that would disprove the allegation; the Code of Conduct and the Code of Ethics shall not be used for personal reprisal, as a means of addressing personal animosity, or as a vehicle for retaliation.

  12. Assistants making and responding to complaints shall comply fully with the policies of the Board of Ethics in its consideration, adjudication, and resolution of complaints of alleged violations of the Code of Conduct and the Code of Ethics.

  13. Assistants involved in Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct complaints shall not knowingly make false statements of fact or withhold relevant facts necessary to fairly adjudicate the complaints.

  14. Assistants shall comply with local, state, and federal laws and regulations applicable to their practice.

  15. Assistants who have been convicted; been found guilty; or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to (1) any misdemeanor involving dishonesty, physical harm—or the threat of physical harm—to the person or property of another, or (2) any felony, shall self-report by notifying ASHA Standards and Ethics (see Terminology section for mailing address) in writing within 30 days of the conviction, plea, or finding of guilt. Individuals shall also provide a certified copy of the conviction, plea, nolo contendere record, or docket entry to ASHA Standards and Ethics within 30 days of self-reporting.

  16. Assistants who have been publicly sanctioned or denied a license or a professional credential by any professional association, professional licensing authority or board, or other professional regulatory body shall self-report by notifying ASHA Standards and Ethics (see Terminology section for mailing address) in writing within 30 days of the final action or disposition. Individuals shall also provide a certified copy of the final action, sanction, or disposition to ASHA Standards and Ethics within 30 days of self-reporting.

Reference this material as: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2020). Assistants code of conduct [Ethics]. Available from www.asha.org/policy/.


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Disclaimer: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association disclaims any liability to any party for the accuracy, completeness, or availability of these documents, or for any damages arising out of the use of the documents and any information they contain.