Introduction: About the Profession
Speech-language pathology involves the study of normal and impaired communication development and the evaluation and treatment of speech and language disorders. Audiology involves the evaluation, treatment, and study of normal and impaired hearing mechanisms and perception.
Speech-language pathologists treat children and adults with disorders of language and speech, which include disorders such as stuttering, voice and aphasia. The disorders may occur as a result of developmental delays, hearing disorders, mental retardation, anatomical and/or physiological limitations, brain injury, emotional disturbance or a variety of other causes. Communication disorders and hearing impairments occur at all ages, from early infancy to advanced adulthood. Audiologists evaluate the hearing abilities of individuals of all ages in school, medical and business settings. The undergraduate program in Communication Sciences and Disorders provides the pre-professional academic course work in audiology as well as speech pathology.
Speech-language pathologists and audiologists have a wide range of job opportunities in schools, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation programs, universities and private practice. There is a growing need for speech-language pathologists and audiologists.
Professional OrganizationsAmerican Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA)
The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) is the professional organization for speech-language pathologists and audiologists (the American Academy of Audiology also serves audiologists). One function of ASHA is to offer an accreditation program for academic and clinical institutions. The academic accreditation agency is called the Council on Academic Accreditation. It examines academic programs and determines their eligibility for accreditation. This Council accredits the Communication Disorders Program of the University of Houston. The Communication Disorders Program of the University of Houston is accredited by this Council. This means that the program must adhere to guidelines in administering the academic and clinical programs. If you wish to contact the Council on Academic Accreditation you can write to them at ASHA National Office, 2200 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850-3289. The phone number is 301-296-5700. There are certain academic requirements that students must fulfill as well as clinical requirements that are mandatory. ASHA also has a public code of ethics. It is the responsibility of every student and professional to follow the code of ethics. This code is presented in the Appendix of the ASHA handbook. It will be discussed in several of your classes. Please read it.
The National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) is affiliated with ASHA. There are branches of NSSHLA at many universities. At the University of Houston there is a local chapter, which is very active. It is an excellent way to learn about professional issues and have fun, too. Students are encouraged to participate in this association. Activities that NSSHLA has sponsored include: providing opportunities to visit professional work settings, presenting lectures from professionals in the community, and raising funds for tests for our clinic and scholarships for clients in the clinic and our students. One advantage to membership is reduced ASHA certification fees.
The Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association (TSHA) is the state professional organization. Students are encouraged to join at a reduced student rate. TSHA offers excellent educational and professional opportunities for students at its annual convention. Conventions are held in Houston, Dallas, Corpus Christi and Austin on a rotating basis. TSHA offers financial support to students for research and education.
The Houston Association for Communication Disorders (HACD) is the local professional organization. HACD currently numbers almost 500 members and is an active organization. The main mission is to provide continuing education for its members. It maintains a student focus through mentoring programs and scholarships for Communication Sciences and Disorders students. HACD is a useful network for students, a way to meet and know local professionals.
The State of Texas Board of Examiners for Speech Pathology and Audiology licenses certified speech-language pathologists and audiologists as well as interns (persons completing their clinical fellowship year) and speech assistants (LSPA). Speech assistants have a bachelor's degree in Communication Disorders and who apply to the licensure board. A Speech Pathology and/or Audiology license is granted to applicants who have completed their master's degree at an accredited school and who have passed the National Examination in Speech Pathology or Audiology. An individual must hold one of the licensure credentials to practice in Texas.