ASHA Certified SLPs and AuDs are the “Gold Standard”. Why aren’t MT Speech Aides?

The certificate of clinical competence of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) is the nationally recognized certification for speech pathologists and audiologist. We received the extensive training of over 1600 plus of supervised clinical hours, graduate degrees, passing grades on the ASHA national examination, and continued CEUs of 30 plus hours every 3 years. We are dedicated to improving the lives of the clients we serve. ASHA certified professionals are committed to excellence with expectations of adhering to the highest ethical standards.

However, we continue to use uneducated, untrained aides in Montana. Most of the aides that serve our clients have no formal training in communication disorders; their highest level of education is a high school degree; received “on the job training” training by observing a very busy supervisor with the minimal supervision required by our licensing board.

The history behind this was an extreme shortage of SLPs in AuDs in our state with no university program. But this was in the past. With online courses and the use of telepractice, there is no reason for this anymore. How has this been allowed to continue and how does it show that we are “dedicated to improving the lives of our clients” ?

As the demands for our services continue to increase, every SLP and AuD must work at the top of their license. Certified and licensed audiology assistants and SLPAs will play an important role in making that happen.

ASHA has introduced a national credential program for speech-language pathology assistants (SLPAs) to create a pipeline of trained and qualified professionals who meet a uniform standard of competency and can support you across their full scope of practice. SLPAs can increase the availability, frequency, and efficiency of services, providing you with more time to focus on high-level services.

How can you prepare for the program's launch in Fall 2020?

1) Inform your current assistants about this opportunity, and direct them to ASHA's website,, where they can find information about eligibility requirements and stay up to date with the latest program developments.

2) Guide them to University of Montana’s new SLP/Audiology Certificate program

initiated by the University of Montana:

3) Join or renew your membership with MSHA and help us prepare to pass our bill to provide licensing standards for speech and audiology assistants!

Our vision continues to be that Montanans will access speech, language, and hearing services from the highest trained professionals. Let’s do this!

Kathleen DeLapp-Cohn, MS, CCC-SLP

Past President, 2019

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