For a moment, think back to a time before computers, cell phones, tablets, video games and other technology. Things were very different, weren’t they? Technology has been infused in almost every part of our lives now. Our school districts are no different. Technology has transformed education and students today are more tech savvy than ever before and are comfortable operating devices that didn’t exist in previous generations. The world of speech-language pathology has evolved as well. Teletherapy, also referred to as telepractice, is becoming more prevalent as an effective method of delivering speech services. Telepractice is the use of telecommunications technology to provide speech and language services at a distance by linking the speech-language pathologist to the student for services using a computer equipped with a web camera and video conferencing software.
Telepractice speech sessions occur in real-time and are very much like a video chat. The speech-language pathologist and student interact to share audio, video, data and images. Speech-language pathologists may use tablets or iPads to share materials with students. The services delivered remain the same, only the method of delivery is slightly different. We have found many of our students are actually more engaged by tapping into the digital world for their service delivery model. Telepractice can be used for assessment, intervention or consultation with teachers and other staff members. Services address multiple speech and language disorders including articulation, language, voice, and fluency disorders.
The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) fully supports telepractice and states that it is an appropriate model of service delivery for speech-language services. ASHA requires that individuals who provide telepractice abide by the same ASHA Code of Ethics, roles, responsibilities and preferred practice patterns, as is required for all speech-language pathologists.
Telepractice services are appropriate for almost all students, however, each student is considered individually. The child’s physical and sensory abilities, cognitive functioning, behavior, communication skills, and level of support are all considered prior to beginning services. Speech Language Pathologists at Area Education Agency 267 (AEA 267) are using teletherapy, in addition to face-to-face sessions, to meet the needs of students served in our area.
Kristi Meyers is a speech-language pathologist and discipline representative with Area Education Agency 267 (AEA 267). She can be reached at email@example.com. Area Education Agency 267 serves over 65,000 students. In addition, over 5,000 educators rely on AEA 267 for services in special education, school technology, media and instructional/curriculum support. The agency’s service area reaches 18 counties and nearly 9,000 square miles.