Statement by the Ethical Practice Board: Use of the AuD Designation by Members and Certificate Holders

It has come to the Ethical Practice Board's (EPB) attention that a credentialing designation known as the "AuD" can be obtained through a method called "earned entitlement."

The designation is awarded through a portfolio review process with main emphasis on the review of the documentation of tasks previously performed, time in practice, additional educational courses taken, awards received, and publications written by the applicant.

As a result, the question has been posed to the EPB as to whether an AuD designation obtained through "earned entitlement" which is used in professional and commercial communications is in violation of ASHA's Code of Ethics.

In 1987, the Ethical Practice Board of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) published an Issues in Ethics Statement entitled: "Use of Graduate Degrees by Members and Certificate Holders."

This Statement was issued to provide guidance to ASHA members and certificate holders on how to utilize college and university degrees in business and professional communications.

The 1987 Statement was based upon ASHA's Code of Ethics, specifically Principle of Ethics III, Rules A and E, which state:

  • Individuals shall not misrepresent their credentials, competence, education, training, or experience (Rule A).
  • Individuals' statements to the public-advertising, announcing, and marketing their professional services, reporting research results, and promoting products-shall adhere to prevailing professional standards and shall not contain misrepresentations (Rule E).

In further clarifying the use of graduate degrees in light of the wording of Principle of Ethics III, Rules A and E, the EPB stated: "When members or certificate holders use the graduate degree in connection with any aspect of the professions or disciplines of speech-language pathology, audiology, or the speech-language-hearing sciences, those provisions of the Code of Ethics require that the graduate degree (a) be granted by a regionally accredited institution or (b) be determined to meet equivalent standards. Any determination of equivalence must be made prior to the use of the degree."

The Statement further declared, "ASHA members and certificate holders may use only graduate degrees from accredited institutions or their equivalent on stationery, business cards, catalogs, advertisements, listings, directories, programs, announcements, or any publication in which members or certificate holders are identified for some professional purpose."

Degrees from accredited institutions were defined "as those awarded by postsecondary educational institutions that are accredited by regional accrediting agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education or the Council on Post-Secondary Accreditation" (currently, the Commission on Recognition of Post-Secondary Accreditation/Council on Higher Education Accreditation).

Therefore, it is the opinion of the Ethical Practice Board that, in any form of communication in connection with the professional practice of audiology, the use of an AuD designation obtained by "earned entitlement" from any organization or institution that is not regionally accredited (or that has not shown that it meets equivalent standards) may be in violation of ASHA's Code of Ethics.

The use of the AuD designator creates the impression that it represents a doctoral-level degree awarded by a regionally accredited institution, usually a university.

An AuD designator obtained through "earned entitlement' from an organization or institution not regionally accredited, or has not been determined to meet the standards of regional accreditation, and is not a degree granting institution, will cause considerable confusion in the profession and the public.

Use of this designator implies that the audiologist has completed a doctoral-level program and obtained a doctorate degree in audiology.

It also implies that the services offered by the person using the designation "AuD" through "earned entitlement" originate from a person who possesses an AuD degree.

The EPB believes that the use of an "earned entitlement" AuD designation in professional and commercial communications misrepresents the actual educational training and experience of the user and the source of the services being offered, and causes a significant likelihood of confusion with AuD degrees awarded to individuals by regionally accredited postsecondary educational institutions.

Violations of ASHA's Code of Ethics may result in the revocation of certification and/or membership for those professionals who are ASHA members and/or holders of ASHA's Certificate of Clinical Competence.

EPB's position on this matter is being published in the interest of the welfare of those people who are served by the members of the audiology profession and by the members of the Association.

See the Executive Board Statement | ASHA's Code of Ethics

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