The Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology is an official policy of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) defining the breadth of practice within the profession of speech-language pathology. This document was developed by the ASHA Ad Hoc Committee on the Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology. Committee members were Mark DeRuiter (chair), Michael Campbell, Craig Coleman, Charlette Green, Diane Kendall, Judith Montgomery, Bernard Rousseau, Nancy Swigert, Sandra Gillam (board liaison), and Lemmietta McNeilly (ex officio).
This document was approved by the ASHA Board of Directors on February 4, 2016 (BOD 01-2016). The Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology includes the following: a statement of purpose, definitions of speech-language pathologist and speech-language pathology, a framework for speech-language pathology practice, a description of the domains of speech-language pathology service delivery, delineation of speech-language pathology service delivery areas, domains of professional practice, references, and resources.
As part of the review process for updating the Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology, the committee revised the previous scope of practice document to reflect recent advances in knowledge and research in the discipline. One of the biggest changes to the document includes the delineation of practice areas in the context of eight domains of speech-language pathology service delivery: collaboration; counseling; prevention and wellness; screening; assessment; treatment; modalities, technology, and instrumentation; and population and systems. In addition, five domains of professional practice are delineated: advocacy and outreach, supervision, education, research, and administration/leadership.
Service delivery areas include all aspects of communication and swallowing and related areas that impact communication and swallowing: speech production, fluency, language, cognition, voice, resonance, feeding, swallowing, and hearing. The practice of speech-language pathology continually evolves. SLPs play critical roles in health literacy; screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder; and use of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF; World Health Organization [WHO], 2014) to develop functional goals and collaborative practice. As technology and science advance, the areas of assessment and intervention related to communication and swallowing disorders grow accordingly. Clinicians should stay current with advances in speech-language pathology practice by regularly reviewing the research literature, consulting the Practice Management section of the ASHA website, including the Practice Portal, and regularly participating in continuing education to supplement advances in the profession and information in the scope of practice.
Please read the revised Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology and share with professionals and other interested parties seeking information about SLPs, their roles, and areas of clinical practice. Please contact speech-language pathologists on the ASHA staff at SLPcluster@asha.org or Lemmietta McNeilly, Chief Staff Officer for Speech-Language Pathology if you have questions at Lmcneilly@asha.org