§ 3701 Objectives.
The primary objective of the Board of Speech/Language Pathologists, Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers, to which all other objectives and purposes are secondary, is to protect the general public, specifically those persons who are the direct recipients of services regulated by this chapter, from unsafe practices and from occupational practices which tend to reduce competition or fix the price of services rendered.
The secondary objectives of the Board are to maintain minimum standards of practitioner competency and to maintain certain standards in the delivery of services to the public. In meeting its objectives, the Board shall develop standards assuring professional competence; shall monitor complaints brought against practitioners regulated by the Board; shall adjudicate at formal hearings; shall promulgate rules and regulations; and shall impose sanctions where necessary against licensed practitioners.
§ 3702 Definitions.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them under this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
(1) "Audiologist" shall mean a person who is licensed to practice audiology pursuant to this act and who offers such services to the public under 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.
(2) "Audiology aide" shall mean a person who is certified by the Council of Accreditation of Occupational Hearing Conservationists, or its equivalent, and whose supervising licensed audiologist annually shall register such person with the Board. The audiology aide shall perform services only under the direct supervision of an audiologist licensed in this State.
(3) "Board" shall mean the State Board of Speech/Language Pathologists, Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers established in this chapter.
(4) "Division" shall mean the state Division of Professional Regulation.
(5) "Excessive use or abuse of drugs" shall mean any use of narcotics, controlled substances or illegal drugs without a prescription from a licensed physician, or the abuse of alcoholic beverage such that it impairs an individual's ability to perform the work of a speech/language pathologist, audiologist or hearing aid dispenser.
(6) "Hearing aid" shall mean any personal, wearable instrument or device designed for, offered for the purpose of, or represented as, aiding persons with, or compensating for, impaired hearing.
(7) "Hearing aid dispenser" shall mean a person licensed to dispense hearing aids pursuant to this Act and who is engaged in the evaluation or measurement of the power or range of human hearing by means of an audiometer or any other means devised for the purpose of selecting, adapting and distributing or selling of hearing aids. Testing shall not include medical diagnosis or audiologic evaluation. Licensed hearing aid dispensers may provide instruction, orientation and counseling on the use and operation of a hearing aid; and they may use an otoscope or "ear light" to evaluate the feasibility and use of ear molds and ear mold impressions.
(8) "Person" shall mean a corporation, company, association or partnership, as well as an individual. Licenses shall be issued only to individuals under this chapter.
(9) "Practice of audiology" shall mean 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 paragraph, the terms "habilitation" and "rehabilitation" shall include, but are not limited to, hearing aid evaluation, recommendation, and fitting and selecting, adapting and distributing or selling of hearing aids.
(10) "Practice of speech/language pathology" shall mean 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.
(11) "Speech/language pathologist" shall mean a person who is licensed to practice speech/language pathology pursuant to this act and who offers such services to the public under any title or description of services incorporating the words "speech/language pathologist," "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.
(12) "Speech pathology aide" shall mean a person, who meets minimum qualifications that the Board may establish, which permit such an aide to assist speech/language pathologists in their professional endeavors, but only while under the direct supervision of a licensed speech/language pathologist.
(13) "State" shall mean the State of Delaware.
(14) "Substantially related" means the nature of the criminal conduct, for which the person was convicted, has a direct bearing on the fitness or ability to perform 1 or more of the duties or responsibilities necessarily related to the practice of speech/language pathology, audiology and/or the dispensing of hearing aids.
§ 3703 Board of Speech/Language Pathologists, Audiologists, and Hearing Aid Dispensers; appointments; composition; qualifications; term; vacancies; suspension or removal; unexcused absences; compensation.
(a) There is created a State Board of Speech/Language Pathologists, Audiologists, and Hearing Aid Dispensers, which shall administer and enforce this chapter.
(b) The Board shall consist of 9 members, appointed by the Governor, who are residents of this State: 3 shall be speech/language pathologists licensed under this chapter; 2 shall be audiologists licensed under this chapter, 1 shall be a hearing aid dispenser licensed under this chapter, and 3 public members. Each professional member of the Board shall be a primary practitioner of that member's specialty. The public members shall not be, nor ever have been, speech/language pathologists, audiologists or hearing aid dispensers; nor members 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, or a company engaged in the practice of speech/language pathology, audiology or dispensing hearing aids; shall not have a material interest in the providing of goods and services to speech/language pathologists, audiologists or hearing aid dispensers; nor have been engaged in an activity directly related to speech/language pathology, audiology or dispensing hearing aids. The public members shall be accessible to inquiries, comments and suggestions from the general public.
(c) Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, each member shall serve a term of 3 years, and may succeed himself or herself for 1 additional term; provided, however, that where a member was initially appointed to fill a vacancy, such member may succeed himself or herself for only 1 additional full term. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board shall hold office for the remainder of the unexpired term of the former member. Each term of office shall expire on the date specified in the appointment; however, the Board member shall remain eligible to participate in Board proceedings unless or until replaced by the Governor. Persons who are members of the Board on February 4, 2000, shall complete their terms.
(d) A person who has never served on the Board may be appointed to the Board for 2 consecutive terms; but no such person shall thereafter be eligible for 2 consecutive appointments. No person who has been twice appointed to the Board or who has served on the Board for 6 years within any 9-year period shall again be appointed to the Board until an interim period of at least 1 term has expired since such person last served.
(e) Any act or vote by a person appointed in violation of this section shall be invalid. An amendment or revision of this chapter is not sufficient cause for any appointment or attempted appointment in violation of subsection (d) of this section unless such an amendment or revision amends this section to permit such an appointment.
(f) A member of the Board shall be suspended or removed by the Governor for misfeasance, nonfeasance, malfeasance, misconduct, incompetency or neglect of duty. A member subject to disciplinary hearing shall be disqualified from Board business until the charge is adjudicated or the matter is otherwise concluded. A Board member may appeal any suspension or removal to the Superior Court.
(g) No member of the Board, while serving on the Board, shall hold elective office in any professional association of speech/language pathologists, audiologists or hearing aid dispensers; this includes a prohibition against serving as head of a professional association's Political Action Committee (PAC).
(h) The provisions set forth in Chapter 58 of Title 29 shall apply to all members of the Board.
(i) Any member who is absent without adequate reason for 3 consecutive meetings or fails to attend at least half of all regular business meetings during any calendar year shall be guilty of neglect of duty.
(j) Each member of the Board shall be reimbursed for all expenses involved in each meeting, including travel; and in addition shall receive compensation per meeting attended in an amount determined by the Division in accordance with Del. Const. art. III, § 9.
24 Del. C. 1953, § 3607; 59 Del. Laws, c. 206, § 1; 63 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 8; 65 Del. Laws, c. 224, § 1; 67 Del. Laws, c. 368, § 24; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 72 Del. Laws, c. 266, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 154, § 2; 81 Del. Laws, c. 85, § 20.;
§ 3704 Organization; meetings; officers; quorum.
(a) The Board shall hold regularly scheduled business meetings at least once in each quarter of a calendar year and at such times as the President deems necessary or at the request of a majority of the Board members.
(b) The Board annually shall elect a President and Secretary. Each officer shall serve for 1 year, and shall not succeed himself or herself for more than 2 consecutive terms.
(c) A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of transacting business, and no disciplinary action shall be taken without the affirmative vote of at least 5 members.
(d) Minutes of all meetings shall be recorded, and the Division of Professional Regulation shall maintain copies. At any hearing where evidence is presented, a record from which a verbatim transcript can be prepared shall be made. The person requesting it shall incur the expense of preparing any transcript.
§ 3705 Records.
The Division shall keep a register of all approved applications for license as a speech/language pathologist, audiologist and hearing aid dispenser, and complete records relating to meetings of the Board, examinations, rosters, changes and additions to the Board's rules and regulations, complaints, hearings and such other matters as the Board shall determine. Such records shall be prima facie evidence of the proceedings of the Board.
§ 3706 Powers and duties; immunity.
(a) The Board of Speech/Language Pathologists, Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers shall have authority to:
(1) Formulate rules and regulations, with appropriate notice to those affected; all rules and regulations shall be promulgated in accordance with the procedures specified in the Administrative Procedures Act [Chapter 101 of Title 29] of this State. Each rule or regulation shall implement or clarify a specific section of this chapter.
(2) Designate the application form to be used by all applicants and to process all applications.
(3) Designate the national, written, standardized examinations in speech/language pathology, audiology and hearing aid dispensing, prepared by a national testing service(s), to be taken by all persons applying for licensure as speech/language pathologists, audiologists and/or hearing aid dispensers; applicants who qualify for licensure by reciprocity shall have achieved a passing score on all parts of the designated written national examination in the applicant's specialty.
(4) Evaluate the credentials of all persons applying for a license to practice speech/language pathology, audiology or to dispense hearing aids in this State or to act as audiology aides or speech pathology aides, in order to determine whether such persons meet the qualifications set forth in this chapter.
(5) Grant licenses to, and renew licenses of all persons who meet the qualifications for licensure, including those persons who apply for temporary licensure.
(6) Establish by rule and regulation continuing education standards required for license renewal.
(7) Evaluate certified records to determine whether an applicant for licensure who previously has been licensed, certified or registered in another jurisdiction to practice speech/language pathology, audiology and dispense hearing aids has engaged in any act or offense that would be grounds for disciplinary action under this chapter and whether there are disciplinary proceedings or unresolved complaints pending against such applicant for such acts or offenses.
(8) Refer all complaints from licensees and the public concerning persons licensed in this chapter or concerning practices of the Board or of the profession, to the Division for investigation pursuant to § 8735 of Title 29 and assign a member of the Board to assist the Division in an advisory capacity with the investigation of the technical aspects of the complaint.
(9) Conduct hearings and issue orders in accordance with procedures established pursuant to Chapter 101 of Title 29.
(10) Where it has been determined after a hearing that penalties or sanctions should be imposed, to designate and impose the appropriate sanction or penalty after time for appeal has lapsed.
(11) Adopt and publish a code of ethics for each professional specialty and promulgate within 60 days of adoption.
(12) Establish and publish standards for electronic equipment used for the purpose of measuring hearing, and require written proof of calibration for such equipment annually.
(13) Establish requirements for licensed hearing aid dispenser and licensed audiologist to:
a. At the time of the initial examination for fitting and sale of a hearing aid, to notify the prospective purchaser or client of the operation and benefits of telecoil, also known as "t" coil, or "t" switch technology, in using a hearing aid with "hearing loop" technology; and
b. Provide written information explaining telecoil and its uses, including increased access to telephones, and communication with businesses and in the community, and noninvasive access to assistive listening systems.
(b) No member shall participate in any action of the Board involving directly or indirectly any person related in any way by blood or marriage to said member.
(c) The Board shall promulgate regulations specifically identifying those crimes which are substantially related to the practice of speech/language pathology, audiology and/or the dispensing of hearing aids.