Proposing a New Special Interest Group

ASHA is temporarily pausing consideration of new SIGs until it has an opportunity to review the program.

The process of forming a new Special Interest Group (SIG) begins with the submission of a formal proposal to the Board of Special Interest Group Coordinators (BSIGC). The BSIGC then reviews the proposal and makes its recommendation to the ASHA Board of Directors (BOD). A proposal to form a new SIG must conform to the criteria described for the establishment of SIGs.

Content of Proposal

The detailed proposal must include

  • A cover letter
  • A petition
  • A plan for meeting minimal criteria for operating and maintaining a SIG
  • A description of the potential leadership pool available to fulfill the leadership requirements of a SIG (e.g., 4–5 member coordinating committee, editorial review board, and continuing education subcommittee).
  • Additional information, if the proposal is made by an external group (outside of the Association)

The Cover Letter

The cover letter must include

  • SIG name
  • Explanation of how the proposed SIG fits within the mission and vision of ASHA and its strategic plan, including the proposed SIG's mission and vision statements
  • Evidence that the petitioners represent an active and functionally unitary interest of a group of ASHA Members (e.g., voice, aural rehab)
  • Explanation of need/rationale for the new SIG, including
    • Evidence that no other SIG meets the needs to be addressed by the proposed SIG, specifically including why creation of a new SIG, rather than a study group within an existing SIG, is warranted (e.g., Is the scope broad enough to warrant a separate SIG?)
    • How establishment of this SIG will not threaten the welfare/existence of current SIGs
    • The relevant body of knowledge for the topic, as available within the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology and based upon the scholarly and scientific literature and other sources as appropriate (Note: Applicant will be provided with a sample list of possible sources; it is expected that a body of peer-reviewed work would be available to support the proposed group.)
    • Specific purpose of the proposed SIG
    • The scientific, including basic and applied research, clinical/practical and topical areas to be included or encompassed
  • An estimate of the number of potential affiliates, including an explanation of how this number was derived

The Petition

A SIG may be established whenever 150 members of the Association petition for it and the BOD approves. Petition signatures with member name, ASHA account number, and email address must be gathered within an 18 month period.

The petition must be signed by ASHA members sponsoring the petition who are eligible to serve on the inaugural four- or five-member Coordinating Committee. The petition will include a statement indicating that the signatory

  • Intends to join and requests affiliation with the new SIG
  • Accepts membership, if the SIG is established

The Plan for Meeting Minimal Criteria

With guidance from National Office staff, the petitioning group must provide a detailed plan for meeting the minimal criteria for operating a SIG, specifically including these activities.

  • Publish one annual CEU-bearing issue of Perspectives.
  • Plan and conduct one Convention Master Class and one invited seminar.
  • Establish and maintain an affiliates-only online community through the Association.
  • Submit a budget that includes the estimates of proposed SIG costs for the first 3 years (staff assists with this). 
  • Identify issues that need to be considered by the Association in its strategic plan.
  • Work toward supporting ASHA's strategic plan and other programs, as appropriate.
  • Establish a Coordinating Committee with (a) a minimum of five members, with three elected members and two appointed members or (b) a maximum of six members, with four elected members and two appointed members. In all cases, the elected members would include a Coordinator and Associate Coordinator and the appointed members would be the Perspectives Editor and the Professional Development Manager (PDM).
  • Hold a real-time interactive meeting (e.g., face-to-face, web-based) of the Coordinating Committee.
  • Host an Open House and Networking Meeting for current and potential affiliates at the ASHA Convention or other conference where it is likely that many affiliates can attend; if scheduled outside the Convention, the ex officio or other NO staff member must be in attendance.
  • Nominate individauls to serve as Editorial Board Members (EBMs) to review Perspectives articles.
  • Submit an annual report of SIG activities.

The Leadership Pool

The petitioners must describe the pool of committed leadership available to establish and maintain the proposed SIG. This description must include the names of individuals who are willing, if called upon, to serve on the coordinating committee to fulfill required roles and responsibilities.

A Proposal by an External Group

If the proposal is made by an external group, the group must submit all of the information previously specified and additional information, specifically including

  • The minutes of the meeting(s) at which action was taken to seek affiliation
  • The proposed objectives that fall within the scope of those specified in the bylaws of the Association
  • A complete list of members, if the proposed SIG existed previously in another form and details of each member's status in ASHA
  • A list of officers for the current year
  • Bylaws of the group, if any

The Review Process

Review by the BSIGC

The detailed proposal, signed by the ASHA member who will represent the petitioners in further communications, is submitted to the chair, BSIGC via the director, SIG Program at the ASHA National Office. The proposal is distributed to the BSIGC for review.

The BSIGC determines whether the petition is technically complete (i.e., satisfies the Review Checklist for Proposed New SIGs. All SIG Coordinators and their respective Coordinating Committees review the application and provide feedback to the BSIGC Chair.

At its next meeting or conference call, the BSIGC discusses the application and Coordinator/Committee feedback and completes a straw vote. The BSIGC Chair documents the review and recommendations. The BSIGC Ex Officio then submits the cover letter to ASHA's Editorial department for reivew. The BSIGC Ex Officio should send the edited cover letter to the petitioning group for review. If the petitioning group accepts the edited cover letter, then the BSIGC Chair forwards all of the documents to the ASHA BOD.

The BSIGC recommends acceptance, withdrawal, or revision to the BOD. If the BSIGC recommends acceptance, it submits a resolution the BOD for decision.

Review by the BOD

Establishment of a new SIG requires a two-thirds majority vote of those present at a face-to-face meeting or on a conference call.

Pending BOD approval, the new SIG becomes active the first year it is included in the Association's annual budget (i.e., proposals approved by the BOD between January and March will not be operational until the following year; proposals approved by the BOD between April and December will not be operational until the second year).

A BSIGC mentoring group will be assigned to help establish the new SIG.

If the BOD's recommendation is unfavorable, the petitioners may choose to take an additional year to modify the proposal while ensuring that its original intent is retained.


The table provides approximate timelines that apply to proposals received throughout the calendar year.

From receipt of proposal to action Action
3 months Coordinators and Coordinating Committees complete review
4 months BSIGC gives feedback to petitioning group and BOD
4 months, for favorable review BSIGC submits resolution to establish SIG to BOD
Variable, for unfavorable review Petitioning group (a) submits petition to BOD or (b) responds to feedback
If approved before the budget for the following year is developed and approved. The SIG is included in the Association's budget.
If approved after the budget has been developed and approved No action (except for online planning) or activities until the SIG is reflected in the Association's budget. The Association's budget cycle is on a calendar year. Therefore, a SIG would begin in the budget year in which it is included in the ASHA budget.

Criteria for Approval

The BOD may create a new SIG, provided that

  • It represents an active and functionally unitary interest of a group of ASHA members.
  • The proposed objectives fall within the scope of those specified in the Bylaws of the Association and its strategic plan.
  • Affiliation is not restricted on any basis other than professional interests and ASHA membership, international affiliation, or National Student Speech Language Hearing Association membership.
  • Its establishment is not inimical to the welfare of any established SIG.
  • It represents a distinct and definable body of knowledge within the professions of speech-language pathology; audiology; and speech, language, and hearing science.
  • It represents an established and reasonably extensive area of professional interest within the discipline as a whole.
  • It includes basic and applied research as well as clinical practice.
  • It is financially sustainable.

Following BOD approval, ASHA members are informed of the names and terms of the SIG's initial Coordinating Committee through announcements in The ASHA Leader, any appropriate SIG publications, and other Association communication vehicles, specifically including electronic and social networking formats.

A new SIG is constituted when it holds its first business meeting, which should occur within one year of its becoming operational.

Candidate Status

To ensure sustainability and saliency, the SIG holds candidate status for a period of 2 years, during which time it

  • receives the privileges of an established SIG
  • submits an annual report to the BSIGC and BOD, describing its activities
  • conducts one face-to-face coordinating committee meeting at the ASHA national office

At the end of the candidacy period, the BSIGC and BOD vote on permanent status for the SIG. (That approval may only be delayed or rescinded if the SIG does not meet the minima criteria for SIG status or is not financially viable.) A majority vote by the BOD is required for final approval.

Creation of a SIG

The BOD may create a new SIG in accordance with Article X of the ASHA Bylaws; the SIG objectives must fall within the scope of those specified in the Bylaws. The Content of Proposal addresses principals set out in the Bylaws. Note: Affiliation must not be restricted on any basis other than professional interests and ASHA membership, international affiliation, consumer (person receiving or have received services, or family member, or nonprofessional provider), or National Student Speech Language Hearing Association membership.

Following favorable action by the BOD, the formation of the new SIG and the names and terms of its initial CC are announced to membership of the Association through ASHA and SIG publications. The process for election of CC members is also announced. (Election of SIG officers at SIG business meetings is preferable, but may not be practical. An election by mail may be held.)

A new SIG is constituted when it holds its first business meeting, which should occur within one year of its establishment by the BOD. The Coordinator is responsible to report the substance of these actions to the Vice Presidents for Professional Practices and to the Special Interest Group and International Liaison Programs at the National Office. A quorum for this meeting will be one-tenth of the petitioners. BOD approval of the SIG will lapse if the SIG is not organized in this manner by the close of the one year anniversary following the BOD or conference call at which the SIG was approved.

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