The Importance of ArSHA and Advocacy from Government Relations Chair

ArSHA is the most important advocate for the professions and people with communication disorders in Arizona. While ASHA is skilled at addressing national issues, ArSHA has the resources and relationships necessary to understand and impact the issues directly affecting speech, language, and hearing professionals in our state. We have had great success in recent years with efforts to protect our scope of practice, collaborate with state agencies, and improve existing processes. Our association now meets quarterly with representatives of the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Department of Education. Unlike many other state speech-language-hearing associations, we have an active lobbyist, along with members of our board and committee, who represent us at the legislature. We believe advocacy is essential to our mission and are committed to invest the resources necessary to be successful in these efforts.

There is a trend in Arizona toward deregulation of professions and it is expected there will be an ongoing effort by certain legislators to propose bills that will make our professional licenses vulnerable. Without a clear scope of practice, and the protections of a professional license, there is a risk of what ASHA refers to as “scope creep” where people of other professions, or even those without a professional background, begin to provide services traditionally served by speech-language pathologists and audiologists. ArSHA’s unified efforts help to prevent this from happening. In addition to the many bills that may impact our practice, this coming year will include an opportunity to provide input on the administrative rules associated with our AZDHS licenses. We have already met with representatives from AZDHS and look forward to improved licensing requirements and streamlined processes associated with what we anticipate to be the proposed rules. Your membership in ArSHA, and the dedication of association volunteers, allow us to make a difference in the licensing process and all aspects of professional practice.