AN ACT TO ADD CHAPTER 36, TITLE 24, OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO SPEECH PATHOLOGISTS AND AUDIOLOGISTS; PROVIDING FOR A BOARD OF EXAMINERS OF SPEECH PATHOLOGISTS AND AUDIOLOGISTS; LICENSE REQUIRED TO PRACTICE SPEECH PATHOLOGY AND/OR AUDIOLOGY; AND PROVIDES FOR VIOLATIONS.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware (two-thirds of all members elected to each house thereof concurring therein):
Section 1. To acid to Title 24 a new Chapter 36, which shall read as follows:
CHAPTER 36 SPEECH PATHOLOGY AND/OR AUDIOLOGY
§ 3601. Declaration of purpose
It is declared to be a policy of the State of Delaware that, in order to safeguard the public health, safety and welfare; to protect the public from being misled by incompetent, unscrupulous, and unauthorized persons and from unprofessional conduct on the part of qualified speech pathologists and audiologists; and to help assure the availability of the highest possible quality speech pathology and audiology services to the communicatively handicapped people of this State, it is necessary to provide regulatory authority over persons offering speech pathology and audiology services to the public.
§ 3602. Definitions
For purposes of this Act, the following words unless otherwise indicated, shall be deemed to have the following meanings:
(a) "Board" means the State Board of Examiners for Speech Pathology and Audiology.
(b) "Person" means any individual, organization, or corporate body except that only individuals can be licensed under this Act.
(c) "Speech pathologist" means a person who practices speech pathology and who presents himself to the public by any title or description of services incorporating the words speech pathologist, speech therapist, speech correctionist, speech clinician, language pathologist, language therapist, logopedist, communicologist, aphasiologist, voice therapist, voice pathologist, or any similar title or description of service.
(d) "The practice of speech pathology" means the application of principles, methods, and procedures for the measurement, testing, evaluation, prediction, counseling, instruction, habilitation or rehabilitation related to the development and disorders of speech, voice, or language for the purpose of evaluating, preventing, ameliorating, or modifying such disorders and conditions in individuals and/or groups of individuals.
(e) "Speech pathology aide" means a person who meets minimum qualifications which the Board may establish for speech pathology aides, which qualifications shall be less than those established by this Act as necessary for licensure as a speech pathologist, and who works under the direct supervision of a licensed speech pathologist.
(f) "Audiologist" means a person who practices audiology and who presents himself to the public by any title or description of services incorporating the words audiologist, hearing clinician, hearing therapist, or any similar title or description of service.
(g) "The practice of audiology" means the application of principles, methods, and procedures of measurement, testing, evaluation, prediction, consultation, counseling, instruction, habilitation, rehabilitation related to hearing and disorders of hearing for the purpose of evaluation, identifying, preventing, ameliorating, or modifying such disorders and conditions in individuals and or groups of individuals. For the purposes of this subsection the words "habilitation" and rehabilitation" include, but are not limited to, hearing aid evaluation and recommendation but not the sale of hearing aids.
(h) "Audiology aide" means a person, other than a hearing aid dealer, who meets minimum qualifications which the Board may establish for audiology aides, which qualifications shall be less than those established by this Act as necessary for licensure as an audiologist, and who works under the direct supervision of a licensed audiologist.
§ 3603. Licensure and regulations of Speech Pathologists and Audiologists
(a) Licensure shall be granted either in Speech Pathology or Audiology independently. A person may be licensed in both areas if he meets the respective qualifications.
(b) No person shall practice speech pathology or audiology or represent himself as a speech pathologist or audiologist in this state unless he is licensed in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
§ 3604. Persons and practices not affected (exclusions)
Nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing or restricting:
(a) a physician or surgeon from engaging in the practice of medicine in this State, or any person testing hearing for industrial hearing screening purposes under the supervision of a physician or surgeon; or
(b) a hearing aid dealer from engaging in the practices of fitting and selling hearing aids including testing of hearing for the purpose of such fitting, which testing shall include testing hearing for industrial hearing screening purposes, but which testing shall in no way include medical or audiologic diagnosis, and the counseling, consulting and instructions of individuals on the care and use of hearing aids in this State; or
(c) any person licensed in this State by any other law from engaging in the profession or occupation for which he is licensed ; or
(d) a person who holds a valid and current credential as a speech or hearing specialist, issued by the Delaware Department of Public Instruction, if such person practices speech pathology or audiology in a salaried position solely within the confines or under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Instruction. However, such person may, without obtaining a license under this Act, consult or disseminate his research findings and other scientific information to speech pathologists and audiologists outside the jurisdiction of the organization by which he is employed. Such person may also offer lectures to the public for a fee, monetary or other, without being licensed under this Act. Such person may elect to be subject to this Act;
(e) the activities and services of a person pursuing a course of study leading to a degree in speech pathology or audiology at a college or university, if such activities and services constitute a part of a supervised course of study and that such person is designated speech pathology intern, speech pathology trainee, audiology intern, audiology trainee or by other such titles clearly indicating the training status appropriate to his level of training;
(f) the activities and services of persons fulfilling the clinical experience requirement of section 3605 (d) of this Act, if such activities and services constitute a part of the experience required for that section's fulfillment; or
(g) the performance of speech pathology or audiology services in this State by any person not a resident of this State who is not licensed under this Act, if such services are performed for no more than five days in any calendar year and in cooperation with a speech pathologist or audiologist licensed under this Act, and if such person meets the qualifications and requirements for application for licensure described in section 3605 of this Act. However, a person not a resident of this State who is not licensed under this Act, but who is licensed under the law of another state which has established licensure requirements at least equivalent to those established by section 3605 of this Act, or who is the holder of the Certificate of Clinical Competence of the American Speech and Hearing Association in Speech Pathology or Audiology or its equivalent, may offer speech pathology or audiology services in this State for no more than 30 days in any calendar year, if such services are performed in cooperation with a speech pathologist or audiologist licensed under this Act.
§ 3605. Qualifications of applicants for license
To be eligible for licensure by the Board as a speech pathologist or audiologist, the applicant must:
(a) Possess at least a master's degree or its equivalent in the area of speech pathology or audiology from an educational institution offering a graduate program in speech pathology or audiology.
(b) Submit to the Board transcripts evidencing completion of at least 18 semester hours in courses providing fundamental information applicable to the normal development of speech, hearing, and language, and at least 42 semester hours in courses providing information about and practical experience in the management of speech, hearing, and language disorders, of which 42 semester hours —
(1) No fewer than 6 shall be in audiology for a person applying for licensure in speech pathology.
(2) No fewer than 6 shall be in speech pathology for a person applying for licensure in audiology.
(3) No more than 6 shall be in courses providing academic credit for clinical practice.
(4) At least 24, not including credits for thesis or dissertation requirements, shall be in the field for which the license is sought.
(5) At least 30 shall be in courses considered by the educational institution in which they are conducted as acceptable for application toward a graduate degree.
(c) Submit evidence to the Board of the completion of a minimum of 275 clock hours of supervised, direct clinical experience with individuals presenting a variety of disorders of communication, the experience being obtained within the training institution or in one of its cooperating programs.
(d) Submit to the Board in a notarized statement evidence of completion of at least nine consecutive months of employment with no less than 30 hours per week in the professional area for which the license is being sought. This requirement may also be fulfilled by part-time employment not to exceed 18 consecutive months with an equivalent minimum of 15 hours of clinical experience per week. Such clinical experience must be under the direct supervision of a person licensed and/or certified by the American Speech and Hearing Association in the professional area for which the license is being sought and must follow the completion of the requirements described in clauses (a), (b), and (c) of this section.
(e) Pass an examination approved by the Board. The Board shall determine the subject and scope of the examinations. Written examinations may be supplemented by such oral examinations as the Board shall determine. An applicant who fails his examination may be re-examined at a subsequent examination upon payment of another examination fee.
§ 3606. Licensing under special conditions
(a) The Board shall waive the examination and educational requirements and grant a license to those applicants who, at any time in the two years prior to the effective date of this act, were actively engaged in the practice of speech pathology or audiology in Delaware upon proof of bona fide practice presented to the Board in the manner prescribed by the Board's regulations, providing that they file an application for a license within one year of the effective date of this chapter.
() The Board shall waive the examination and educational requirements and grant a license to applicants who present proof of current licensure in a state, the District of Columbia, or a territory of the United States which has standards equivalent to those of this state.
(a) The Board shall waive the examination and educational requirements and grant a license to those who hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence of the American Speech and Hearing Association in the area for which they are applying for licensure.
§ 3607. Board of Examiners on Speech Pathology and Audiology
There is hereby created a Board of Examiners of Speech Pathology and Audiology. The Board shall consist of five (5) members who are appointed by the Governor and who are residents of the State of Delaware. At least two Board members shall be audiologists and at least two shall be speech pathologists, with the fifth being a consumer. The speech pathologists and audiologists shall hold an active and valid license in this state except for the first appointed members who shall be persons who have been engaged in rendering services, teaching, or research in speech pathology or audiology for a period of at least five (5) years, and shall be qualified for the license under Subchapter II, section 3605. The members of the Board shall serve until the expiration of the term for which they have been appointed or until their successors are qualified.
Their appointment shall be made as follows:
(a) Initially, one member of the Board shall be appointed for a term of one year; two members of the Board shall be appointed for a term of two years; and two members of the Board shall be appointed for a term of three years. All appointments made thereafter shall be for the term of three years.
() When a vacancy upon the Board occurs, the Delaware Speech and Hearing Association shall recommend not less than three persons to fill each vacancy and the Governor may make his appointment from the persons so nominated.
(a) The Board shall reorganize annually and select a chairman and a secretary.
(b) Three members of the Board shall constitute a quorum to do business; however, the quorum must consist of at least one speech pathologist and one audiologist.
(c) No person shall be appointed to serve more than two consecutive terms.
(d) The Board shall hold at least one regular meeting each year. Additional meetings may be held upon call of the Chairman or at the written request of any two members of the Board.
(e) All meetings of the Board shall be open and public except that the Board may hold executive sessions to:
(1) Prepare, approve, grade, or administer examinations.
(2) Upon the request of an applicant who fails an examination, prepare a response indicating the cause of his failure.
(3) Upon the request of an applicant who has been denied a license, prepare a response indicating the reason or reasons for denial.
(h) The Board shall not consist of more than a bare majority representation of one major political party over the other major political party.
§ 3608. Duties and powers
(a) The Board shall administer, coordinate, and enforce the provisions of this Act, evaluate the qualifications of applicants, supervise the examination of applicants, and may issue subpoenas, examine witnesses, and administer oaths, and shall investigate persons engaging in practices which violate the provisions of this Act.
(b) The Board shall conduct such hearings and keep such records and minutes as shall be necessary to an orderly dispatch of business. The Board shall provide notice to the appropriate persons of the times and places of all such hearings.
(c) The Board shall adopt responsible rules and regulations, including but not limited to regulations which establish ethnical standards of practice, and may amend or repeal the same.
(d) The Board shall publish, in an appropriate manner, the licensure standards prescribed by this Act, any amendments thereto, and such rules and regulations as it may promulgate within sixty days of their respective enactment.
(e) Every person who holds a license to practice speech pathology or audiology in this State shall be governed and controlled by the rules of professional conduct adopted by the Board.
(f) The conferral or enumeration of specific powers elsewhere in this Act shall not be construed as a limitation of the general powers conferred by this section.
§ 3609. Seal and authentication of records
(a) The Board shall adopt a seal by which it shall authenticate its proceedings. Copies of the proceedings, records, and acts of the Board, and certificates purporting to relate the facts concerning such proceedings, records and acts, signed by the secretary and authenticated by said seal, shall be prima facie evidence in all courts of this State.
§ 3610. Compensation
The members of the Board shall receive $20 for each day, not to exceed twenty (20) days in one calendar year, actually engaged in service and shall be reimbursed for all proper and necessary expenses, subject to the approval of the Budget Director of the State of Delaware.
§ 3611. Payment of expenses of Board
(a) All expenses incurred by the Board in the administration of the provisions of this Act shall be paid on prescribed reimbursement vouchers available through the Office of Professional Licensing when these vouchers are exhibited as having been approved by the Board; however, the expenses shall not exceed the appropriations authorized by the General Assembly.
§ 3612. Disposition of monies received
(a) All monies received under this Act shall be paid to the Office of Professional Licensing and deposited in the General Fund of the State of Delaware. All salaries and expenses shall be paid as budgeted after budgets have been approved by the State Budget Commission or within the limitations of any appropriation for that purpose which may be included in the Annual Budget Act.
§ 3613. Application for license
(a) Each person required by this Act to obtain a license shall make application to the Board. The application shall be made upon a form and shall be made in such manner as the Board prescribes in regulations duly adopted under this Act.
(b) The application shall be accompanied by the application fee prescribed by Section 3616 of Subchapter IV. This fee shall not be refunded by the Board.
(c) A person who fails an examination may make application for re-examination if he again meets the requirements of Subsections (a) and (b) of this section.
() A speech pathologist or audiologist who holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence of the American Speech and Hearing Association or its equivalent or is licensed in another state and who has made application to the Board for a license in this state may practice speech pathology or audiology without a valid license pending disposition of application.
§ 3614. Examination for license
(a) Each applicant shall be examined by the Committee, and shall pay to the Board, at least 30 days prior to the date of the examination, the examination fee prescribed in Section 3616 of Subchapter IV, which fee will not be refunded by the Board.
(b) The Board may examine by written or oral examination or both. Standards for acceptable performance shall be determined by the Board.
(c) Examinations shall be given at least twice a year at the time and place and under such supervision as the Board may determine. Notice of the exams shall be given at least 60 days prior to their administration.
(d) The Board shall waive the examination if the applicant has successfully passed the American Speech and Hearing Association national examination for certification.
(e) The Board may examine or direct the applicant to be examined for knowledge in whatever theoretical or applied field in speech pathology or audiology as it deems appropriate. It may examine the candidate with regard to his professional skills and his judgment in the utilization of speech pathology or audiology techniques and methods.
(f) The Board shall grade the written examination or direct it to be graded and keep the written examination papers for at least one year.
(g) The Board shall keep an accurate transcript of the oral examination and keep such transcripts as part of its permanent records.
§ 3615. Issuance of license
(a) The Board shall issue a license to all applicants who meet the requirements of this Act and who pay to the Board the License Application Fee provided in Section 3616 of Subchapter IV.
(a) The Board shall be empowered to set and collect reasonable fees to be deposited in the General Fund, not to exceed the amounts hereinafter tabulated:
License applications $25.00
License renewals 10.00
Delinquency of payment 5.00
License replacement 5.00
(b) The application fee shall not be returnable under any circumstances. If an applicant fails to appear for a scheduled examination, the examination fee may be forfeited at the discretion of the Board.
§ 3617. Expirations and renewals of licenses
Each year, following the issuance of a license, the holder of such license shall be required to pay a license renewal fee on or before July 31. Failure to renew the license shall provide grounds for suspension of the license. The license may be reinstated at the discretion of the Board, after payment of the regular renewal fee plus a delinquent fee. However, a person who fails to renew his license within the five years after its expiration may not renew it, but may apply for and obtain a new license if he meets the requirements of this Chapter.
SUBCHAPTER V--REFUSAL SUSPENSION AND REVOCATION
§ 3618. Conditions for suspension and revocation
(a) The Board may refuse to issue a license, or may suspend or revoke the license of any licensee if he has been guilty of unprofessional conduct which has endangered or is likely to endanger the health, welfare, or safety of the public. Such unprofessional conduct may include:
(1) Obtaining a license by means of fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment of material facts.
(2) Being guilty of unprofessional conduct as defined by the rules established by the Board, or violating the Code of Ethics adopted and published by the Board.
(3) Violating any lawful order, or regulation rendered or adopted by the Board.
(4) Violating any provisions of this Act.
(b) The Board shall deny an application for, or suspend or revoke, or impose probationary conditions upon, a license as ordered by the Board in any decision made after a hearing as provided in this Act. One year from the date of revocation of a license under this Subchapter application may be made to the Board for reinstatement. The Board shall have discretion to accept or reject an application for reinstatement and may require an examination for such reinstatement.
§ 3619. Hearings
(a) The Board, or any aggrieved person, may prefer charges of fraud, deceit, gross negligence, or misconduct against anyone licensed to practice speech pathology or audiology in this State. Such charges shall be in writing and shall be filed with the Secretary of the Board. The Board shall have the right to investigate complaints. Findings resulting from the Board's investigation may constitute sufficient reason to hold a hearing.
(b) All charges, unless dismissed by the Board as unfounded or trivial, shall be heard by the Board within three months after the date on which they shall have been preferred, unless the Chairman of the Board grants an extension of one month for the date of such hearing.
(c) The time and place for such hearing shall be fixed by the Board and a copy of the charges, together with a notice of the time and place of hearing, shall be personally served on or mailed to the last known address of the licensee at least 30 days before the date fixed for the hearing. At such hearing, the accused licensee shall have the right to appear personally and to be represented by counsel, to cross-examine witnesses appearing against him, and to produce evidence and witnesses in his own defense. If, after such a hearing, three or more members of the Board vote in favor of finding the accused guilty, the Board shall revoke or suspend his license or take such other action as the Board deems appropriate.
§ 3620. Appeals
Any person who feels aggrieved by any action of the Board in denying, revoking, suspending, or failing to reissue his license may appeal therefrom to the Superior Court of the county in which such person resides or if he is a nonresident, the Superior Court of any county in the State. The decision of the Board shall be prima facie correct, and the burden of proof shall be on the applicant to show the Board acted contrary to law, fraudulently, arbitrarily, or capriciously. The appellant shall be heard on the records and proceedings of the Board, which shall be certified to the Court by the Board within 15 days after service on the Board of a notice of appeal.
§ 3621. Jurisdiction
The Courts of Common Pleas or the Magistrates Courts of the State of Delaware shall have jurisdiction over offenses committed under this Act.
§ 3622. Penalties
Whoever violates the provisions of this Act shall upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than $500 and/or be imprisoned for not more than ninety (90) days.
§ 3623. Severability clause
It is declared to be the legislative intent that if any section, subchapter or sentence, clause or provision of this Act is held invalid, the remainder of this Act shall not be affected, and to this end the provisions of this Chapter are severable.