BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Chapter 37 of Title 24 of the Delaware Code by striking said Chapter In its entirety and by substituting in lieu thereof the following:
"CHAPTER 37. SPEECH PATHOLOGISTS. AUDIOLOGISTS AND HEARING AID DISPENSERS
§ 3701. Declaration of purpose.
It is declared to be the policy of this State that it is necessary to provide regulatory authority over persons offering speech/language, audiology and hearing aid services to the communicatively handicapped people of this State. The purpose of this Board is to safeguard the public health, safety and welfare; assure minimal practitioner competency; and assure ethical professional conduct by practitioners regulated under this Chapter.
§ 3702. Definitions.
For purposes of this Chapter, the following terms, unless otherwise Indicated, shall be deemed to have the following meanings:
(l) "Board" means the State Board of Examiners of Speech/Language Pathologists, Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers.
(2) "Person" means any Individual, organization or corporate body, except that only individuals can be licensed under this Chapter.
(3) "Speech/Language Pathologist" means a person who practices speech/language pathology, and who presents oneself to the public by any title or description of services incorporating the terms speech pathologist, language pathologist, speech and/or language therapist, speech and/or language correctionist, speech and/or language clinician, voice therapist, communicologist, aphasiologist or any other similar title or description of service.
(4) "Practice of speech/language pathology" means the application of principles. methods and procedures for measurement, testing, evaluation, prediction, counseling, instruction. habilitation or rehabilitation related to the development and disorders of speech, language. voice, rate or rhythm for the purpose of evaluating, preventing, ameliorating or modifying such disorders in individuals and/or groups.
(5) "Speech pathology aide" means a person who meets minimum qualifications which the Board may establish which enables them to assist speech/language pathologists in their professional endeavors, but only while under the direct supervision of a licensed speech/language pathologist.
(6) "Audiologist" means a person who practices audiology and who presents oneself to the public by any title or description of services incorporating the words audiologist, hearing clinician, hearing therapist, aural rehabilitator or any other similar title or description of service.
(7) 'Practice of audiology" means the application of principles, methods and procedures of measurement, testing, evaluation, prediction. consultation, counseling, instruction, habilitation and rehabilitation related to hearing and disorders of hearing for the purpose of evaluating, identifying, preventing, ameliorating or modifying such disorders and conditions in individuals and/or groups. For the purpose of this subsection, the terms "habilitation" and "rehabilitation" include, but are not limited to, hearing aid evaluation, recommendation and fitting.
(8) "Audiology aide means a person, other than a hearing aid dispenser, who meets minimum qualifications which the Board may establish, which enables that person to assist audiologists in their professional endeavors, but only under the direct supervision of a licensed audiologist.
(9) "Hearing aid dispenser" means a person engaged in the evaluation or measurement of the power or range of human hearing by means of an audiometer of any other means devised for the purpose of selecting, adapting and distributing or selling of hearing aids. This testing in no way includes medical diagnosis or audiologic evaluation. Dispensers may provide instruction, orientation and counseling on the use and operation of a hearing aid, and they may use an otoscopc or "ear light" to evaluate the feasibility of and use of ear molds and car mold impressions.
§ 3703. License required.
(a) Separate licenses shall be granted in speech/language pathology, audiology and for hearing aid dispensers. A person may be licensed in more than one specialty if such person meets the requirements of each specialty for which licensure is sought.
(b) No person shall practice speech/language pathology or audiology, nor engage in the sale or fitting of hearing aids in this State, unless such person is licensed in accordance with this Chapter.
§ 3704. Application for license.
(a) Each person seeking licensure under this Chapter shall make application to the Board on forms and in such manner as prescribed by the Board.
(b) The application shall be accompanied by a non- refundable fee, the amount of which is to be prescribed by the Board.
(c) The Board shall issue a license to all applicants who meet the requirements of this Chapter and who pay the license application fee.
§3705. Persons and practices not affected by this Chapter.
Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed as preventing or restricting:
(I) A physician from engaging in the practice of medicine in this State, or any person performing industrial hearing screening under the supervision of a physician.
(2) Any person licensed in this State by any other law from engaging in the profession or occupation for which he is licensed.
(3) The performance of speech/language pathology or audiology services in this State by any person not a resident of this State who is not licensed under this Chapter if such services are performed for no more than 30 days in any calendar year and in cooperation with a person licensed under this Chapter, if such person meets the qualifications and requirements for application for licensure described in this Chapter, or holds a valid license from another state which has requirements equivalent to this Chapter, or holds a certificate of clinical competence in speech/language pathology or audiology issued by the American Speech, Language and Audiology Association.
(4) The activities and services of a person pursuing a course of study leading to the required degree in speech/language pathology or audiology at a college or university if such activities and services constitute a part of a supervised course of study and are clearly designated as such.
§ 3706 Qualifications of applicants for licensure.
To be eligible for licensure by the Board as a speech/language pathologist, audiologist or hearing aid dispenser, the applicant must:
(I) Possess such educational, experience and other qualifications as required by the Board in its rules and regulations for the area in which licensurc is sought, provided that:
a. For audiologists and speech/language pathologists, these requirements shall not exceed the current standards promulgated by the American Speech/Language and Hearing Association.
b. For hearing aid dispensers, these requirements shall not exceed current standards promulgated by the National Hearing Aid Society.
(2) Submit to the Board the name and address of the firm, business, clinic and/or principal place of employment which the applicant owns or Is affiliated with if actively practicing their licensed specialty. Applicants not actively engaged in their licensed specialty shall provide a principal address at which they may be contacted.
(3) Submit, if a hearing aid dispenser, documentation as set forth In Board rules and regulations to substantiate a capacity and capability to provide timely and quality services and/or repairs to hearing aids dispensed or sold within the State.
§ 3707. Licensing under special conditions.
(1) Upon payment of a non--refundable application fee, the Board shall waive the examination and educational requirements and grant a license to applicants who, at any time in the two years prior to the effective date of this law, were actively engaged in the practice of speech/language pathology or audiology in Delaware upon proof of bona fide practice presented to the Board in the manner prescribed by the Board's rules and regulations providing that they file an application within one (1) year of the effective date of this law.
(2) Upon payment of a non-refundable application fee, the Board shall waive the examination and educational and experience requirements and grant a license to applicants who submit proof of current licensure in a state. territory or the District of Columbia if the applicant is a licensee In a venue which has standards equivalent to this State.
(3) Upon payment of a non-refundable application fee, the Board shall waive the examination and education and experience requirements and grant a license to applicants holding a current certificate of clinical competence from the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association in the area in which they are applying for licensure.
§ 3708. Temporary license and permits.
A temporary license, valid for one year from the date of issuance and not renewable, shall be issued by the Board under the following circumstances:
(1) Speech/language pathologists and audiologists who have completed all academic and clinical practicum requirements in their specialty but have not completed a clinical fellowship year (CFY) may be issued a temporary permit by:
a. Filing an application with a notarized copy of the CFY plan signed by a sponsor holding a valid state license.
b. Payment of a temporary license fee.
(2) A person who has not taken the hearing aid dispenser's examination may be issued a temporary permit by:
a. Filing an application with a notarized signature of a sponsor licensed under this chapter stating a willingness to provide direct supervision and training of the applicant.
b. Payment of a temporary license fee. § 3709. Examination.
(1) Examination for speech/language pathologists and audiologists shall be the same as those promulgated by the American Speech/Language and Hearing Association or one selected by the Board to be equivalent.
(2) Examination for hearing aid dispensers shall be the same as those promulgated by the National Hearing Aid Society or one selected by the Board to be equivalent.
(3) The Board shall hold or make available at least two (2) examinations each year at a time and place established by the Board.
(4) Those failing an examination may be reexamined within one year of the first examination upon payment of a reexamination fee.
(5) Person: failing two examinations must submit to the Board proof of additional education and/or training as may be required in the rules and regulations and may not be reexamined for s period of at least one year from the time of the second failure.
§ 3710. Expirations and renewals of licenses.
Licenses shall expire biennially on July 31 and may be renewed upon submission of a renewal application provided by the Board and payment of the renewal fee along with the evidence of successful completion of continuing education courses as may be required by the rules- and regulations set forth by the Board. The Secretary of the Board shall notify every registrant of the date of expiration of his or her license and the amount of fee that shall be required for renewal at least one month prior to the expiration thereof. Failure to give or receive such notice shall not prevent the license from becoming invalid after its expiration date.
Any licensee whose license lapses as a result of failure to renew may regain his or her license within twelve months of such lapse upon payment to the Board of an amount not to exceed two times the biennial relicensure fee. Otherwise, licensure may be regained solely by filing a new application for licensure and fulfilling the requirements for licensure as spelled out in this Chapter.
§ 3711. Fees and revenues.
All fees and revenues received by the Board shall be paid to the State Treasurer upon receipt and shall be credited to the General Fund of the State in accordance with Chapter 61 of Title 29 of the Delaware Code. Such fees shall be set by the Board and revised from time to time to provide a continued means to financially administer this Act.
The application fee shall not be refundable under any circumstances. If an applicant fails to appear for a scheduled examination, the fee may be refunded at the discretion of the Board.
§ 3712. Board of Examiners of Speech/Language Pathologists. Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers.
(I) The Board shall consist of nine members appointed by the Governor: two speech/language pathologists, two audiologists, two hearing aid dispensers and three public members. All members of the Board shall be residents of this State. The public members shall not be nor ever have been a speech/language pathologist, audiologist or hearing aid dispenser, nor a member of the immediate family of a speech/language pathologist, audiologist or hearing aid dispenser; shall not have been employed by a speech/language pathologist, audiologist or hearing aid dispenser; shall not have had a material financial interest in the providing of goods and services to those licensed in this Chapter; nor have been engaged in an activity directly related to speech/language pathology, audiology or the practice of hearing aid dispensers. Such public members shall be accessible to inquiries, comments and suggestions from the general public.
(2) No member of the Board may be an officer of a professional association representing speech/language pathologists, audiologists or hearing aid dispensers. Each professional member of the Board shall be an exclusive practitioner of his or her specialty.
(3) The Board shall elect from its membership a President and a Secretary. Five members shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of Board business. The Board shall hold at least one meeting each year. Additional meetings may be held upon the call of the Chair, or at the written request of five members of the Board.
§ 3713. Compensation.
Each member of the Board shall receive compensation at the rate of ;50 per meeting if he or she attends; provided, however, that no member shall receive compensation for the year in excess of ;500 and the Board shall not be paid for more than ten meetings during a calendar year.
§ 3714. Powers and duties.
The Board shall have the authority and the duty to:
(1) review and approve applications for licensure in each professional specialty.
(2) arrange and set dates and times for examination of candidates in each professional specialty.
(3) establish, publish and promulgate rules and regulations necessary to carry out the intent of this Chapter.
(4) establish and publish continuing education requirements for license renewal in each professional specialty.
(5) investigate, conduct hearings and take action on complaints lodged with the Board against individuals licensed under this Chapter.
(6) adopt and publish a code of ethics for each professional specialty and promulgate within sixty days of adoption.
establish and publish standards for electronic equipment used for the purpose of measuring hearing, and require written proof of calibration for such equipment annually. §3715. Suspension or revocation of license or temporary permit.
The Board may refuse to Issue a license or may suspend or revoke the license or permit of any licensee if he or she 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 or permit by fraud, misrepresentation or concealment of material facts;
(2) practicing while knowingly suffering from a contagious or infectious disease;
(3) false or deceptive advertising;
(4) excessive use or abuse of drugs or alcohol;
(5) having been convicted of a felony;
(6) violating any provision of this Chapter. or violating the rules and regulations of the Board, or violating the Code of Ethics established by the Board.
§ 3716. Complaints.
Any practitioner or member of the public who has a question or complaint concerning any aspect of the practice of the professions regulated in this Chapter may. during the regular business hours of a business day, contact the Board or the Division of Business and Occupational Regulation; or voice such question or complaint at a business meeting of the Board.
The Board shall investigate any complaint. including oral and anonymous complaints; and shall follow through on those complaints which, upon investigation, appear to be valid and well-founded. In cases where the complainant is known to the Board it shall, within six weeks after receipt of the complaint, notify the complainant whether or not it will take any action in the matter. If the Board decides to take no action it shall, by letter, state its reasons therefor. A record shall be kept of each complaint, formal or informal, for a period of at least five years.
§ 3717. Hearings and appeals procedures.
(a) Upon receipt of a complaint against a practitioner, the Board shall determine what action (if any) it shall take. Where the Board has determined to take further action, the matter shall be heard by the Board within three months from the date on which the complaint was received. unless circumstances surrounding the complaint warrant a lengthier investigation. The Board shall fix the time and place for a full hearing of the matter. and shall cause a copy of the complaint. together with a notice of the time and place fixed for the hearing, to be personally delivered or served upon the practitioner at least thirty days before the date fixed for the hearing. In cases where the practitioner cannot be located or where personal service cannot be effected, substitute service will be effected in the same manner as with civil litigation.
(b) All hearings shall be informal without the rules of evidence. If the Board finds, by a majority vote of all members, that the complaint has merit. the Board shall take such action permitted under this Chapter as it deems necessary. The Board's decision shall be in writing and shall Include its reasons for such a decision. A copy of the decision shall be mailed immediately to the complainant. and to the practitioner. The Board's decision shall become effective on the thirtieth day after the date it is mailed or served on the practitioner. unless there is an appeal to the Superior Court within that time.
(c) Where either the complainant or the practitioner is in disagreement with the action of the Board, either person may appeal the Board's decision to the Superior Court within thirty days of service, or of the postmarked date of the Board's decision. Upon such appeal, the Court shall hear the evidence de novo, and the filing of an appeal shall act as a stay of the Board's decision, pending final determination of the appeal.
§ 3718. Practicing without a license.
(a) Where the Board has determined that a person is practicing speech/language pathology, audiology or is practicing as a hearing aid dispenser within this State without having lawfully obtained a license therefor. or that a person previously licensed is unlawfully practicing although his or her license has been suspended or revoked, the Board shall formally warn such a person. If the offense continues, the Board shall make a formal complaint to the Attorney General. The complaint shall Include all evidence known to, or in the possession of the Board.
(b) Any person who violates § 3703 of this Chapter shall be liable to a civil penalty of not more than $2500 for the first offense; and not more than $5000 for the second and each subsequent offense, which penalty may be sued for, and recovered by and in the name of the Board.
§ 3719. Several,'Ilty.
The provisons of this Chapter are severable. If any part of the Chapter is declared invalid or unconstitutional, such a declaration shall not affect the parts that remain."