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Session Law

2004

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Chapter 433 AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE CERTIFICATION OF SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY ASSISTANTS AND AUDIOLOGY ASSISTANTS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:


SECTION 1. Section 86 of chapter 13 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2002 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following sentence:- The board shall also evaluate the qualifications of applicants and grant certificates to those who are determined to be qualified as speech-language pathology assistants or audiology assistants.

SECTION 2. Section 138 of chapter 112 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the definition of "Audiology" the following definition:-

"Audiology assistant", a person duly certified in accordance with section 139 who assists in the practice of audiology and who works under the supervision and direction of a duly licensed audiologist.

SECTION 3. Said section 138 of said chapter 112, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by adding the following definition:-

"Speech-language pathology assistant", a person duly certified in accordance with section 139 who assists in the practice of speech-language pathology and who works under the supervision and direction of a duly licensed speech-language pathologist.

SECTION 4. Section 139 of said chapter 112, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out clauses (2) to (4), inclusive, and inserting in place thereof the following 4 clauses:-

(2) shall evaluate the qualifications of applicants and grant certificates to those persons who are determined to be qualified as speech-language pathology assistants or audiology assistants and may require applicants for certificate renewal to present evidence of the satisfactory completion of continuing education requirements as determined and published by the board;

(3) may require applicants for license or certificate renewal to be re-evaluated and re-examined and to present evidence of the satisfactory completion of continuing education requirements as determined and published by the board;

(4) shall receive and investigate complaints relating to the practice of speech-language pathology and audiology and may report the same to the proper prosecuting officers where appropriate. The board may, after a hearing held pursuant to chapter 30A, revoke, suspend or place on probation the license or certificate of or reprimand a speech-language pathologist or audiologist or a speech-language pathology assistant or audiology assistant if such person:

(a) fraudulently procures a license or certificate;

(b) has violated any laws relative to the practice of speech-language pathology or audiology or any rule or regulation adopted thereunder;

(c) has committed professional misconduct in the practice of speech-language pathology or audiology; or

(d) has practiced speech-language pathology or audiology while the ability to so practice was impaired by alcohol or drugs; provided, however, that a person whose license or certificate has been revoked may apply for relicensure or recertification after 1 year from the date of revocation and the board may, in its discretion, grant such relicensure or recertification upon such terms and conditions as the board may deem appropriate; and

(5) shall prepare annually a list of the names and addresses of persons who are licensed or certified to practice speech-language pathology or audiology.

SECTION 5. Said chapter 112 is hereby further amended by striking out sections 140 to 143, inclusive, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the following 4 sections:-

Section 140. A person who desires to be licensed as a speech-language pathologist or audiologist or certified as a speech-language pathology assistant or audiology assistant shall apply to the board in writing on an application form prescribed and furnished by the board. At the time of filing the application, an applicant for licensure or certification shall pay to the board a fee which shall be set by the secretary of administration and finance.

Section 141. The board may at its discretion and without examination license as a speech-language pathologist or audiologist or certify as a speech-language pathology assistant or audiology assistant any applicant who is duly licensed or registered under the laws of another state or territory in the United States, the District of Columbia or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; provided, however, that the applicant shall meet the requirements for licensure or certification in the commonwealth and shall pay the appropriate fee set by the secretary of administration and finance.

Section 142. The board shall license as a speech-language pathologist or audiologist or certify as a speech-language pathology assistant or audiology assistant each applicant who meets the requirements set forth in section 144 or 144A. It shall issue a license or certificate to each person so licensed or certified, which shall be conclusive evidence of the right of such person to practice.

Section 143. A licensed speech-language pathologist or audiologist or certified speech-language pathology assistant or audiology assistant shall apply to the board every 2 years on dates determined by the board for renewal of such license or certificate and shall pay to the board a fee which shall be set by the secretary of administration and finance.

SECTION 6. Said chapter 112 is hereby further amended by inserting after section 144 the following section:-

Section 144A. To be eligible for certification by the board as a speech-language pathology assistant or audiology assistant, an applicant shall:-

(1) be of good moral character;

(2) possess at a minimum an associate's degree in a speech-language pathology or audiology training program approved by a national certifying body for speech-language pathology or audiology, a bachelor's degree from a college with a speech-language pathology assistant or audiology assistant certificate program or an equivalent course of study with a major emphasis in the area of speech-language pathology or audiology; and

(3) meet the minimum criteria established by a national certifying body for speech-language pathology or audiology for certification as a speech-language pathology assistant or audiology assistant.

SECTION 7. Said chapter 112 is hereby further amended by striking out section 146, as appearing in the 2002 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

Section 146. No person shall hold himself out as a speech-language pathologist or practice speech-language pathology unless he is licensed in accordance with the requirements of section 144 or certified in accordance with the requirements of section 144A. No person shall use the title speech-language pathologist or speech-language pathology assistant or any other similar title or description in connection with his name or place of business unless that person is so licensed or certified.

No person shall hold himself out as an audiologist or practice audiology unless he is licensed in accordance with the requirements of section 144 or certified in accordance with the requirements of section 144A. No person shall use the title audiologist or audiology assistant or any other similar title or description in connection with his name or place of business unless that person is so licensed or certified.

SECTION 8. (a) The department of education, in conjunction with the board of licensure for speech-language pathology and audiology, the executive office of health and human services and the department of public health, shall convene a task force to review and make recommendations on the current availability, quality and administration of and future needs for speech-language and audiology services in school districts. The task force's review shall address, but not be limited to, the following areas:-

(1) the relationship between caseload characteristics and student outcomes including, but not limited to, a review and analysis of professional time spent on direct services to students, activities that support compliance with federal, state and local mandates, indirect services that support students' educational progress and indirect activities that support students in the least restrictive environment and general education curriculum;

(2) the implementation of the newborn hearing screening program and its efficacy in identifying the future educational needs of children born with hearing impairments; and

(3) the availability of assistive technology to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of children with hearing impairments including, but not limited to, the impact of Medicaid policies on the availability of services and the use of the most appropriate assistive technology.

(b) The task force shall include not more than 2 representatives from each of the following offices: the department of education, 1 of whom shall serve as chair, the board of registration of speech-language pathology and audiology, including 1 speech-language pathologist and 1 audiologist, the executive office of health and human services and the department of public health. The task force shall consult with representatives from the following entities: the Massachusetts Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, the Special Education Advisory Council, the Massachusetts Academy of Pediatrics, the Massachusetts Society of Otolaryngologists, the Massachusetts Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Advocacy Center, the Federation of Children With Special Needs and teachers and administrators.

(c) The task force shall submit a report to the joint committee on education, arts and humanities and the house and senate committees on ways and means not later than March 15, 2005.

SECTION 9. An individual who has worked as a speech-language pathology assistant or an audiology assistant shall make application to the board of licensure for speech-language pathology and audiology for certification by waiver within 2 years of the effective date of section 144A of chapter 112 of the General Laws. The terms and conditions of any such waivers shall be determined by the board.

SECTION 10. The salary or compensation level of any person currently working or otherwise serving as a speech therapist in a public school system shall not be reduced as the result of any reclassification of that person as a speech-language pathology assistant pursuant to sections 138 to 146, inclusive, of chapter 112 of the General Laws; but this section shall not negate any existing collective bargaining agreement.

Approved December 16, 2004.

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