Essential Functions of Speech-Language Pathology
The Essential Functions specific to Speech-Language Pathologists as recommended by the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders are established as the abilities considered essential for professionals entering the field of speech-language pathology. Students applying to and/or enrolled in the MA-SLP program must possess these functions, with or without reasonable accommodations, in order to achieve the level of competency required for graduation and independent practice.
The following Essential Functions are consistent with the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Science and Disorders. They are deemed necessary in order to acquire the knowledge and skills requisite to the practice of speech-language pathology, and furthermore, are necessary to function in a broad variety of clinical situations, and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. Individuals applying and/or enrolled in the MA-SLP program must have the following skills and attributes:
Physical Health: The student must possess the physical health and stamina needed to carry out the MA-SLP program. The student must be able to continuously sit/stand for several hours.
Intellectual skills: The student must have sufficient powers of intellect to acquire, assimilate, integrate, and apply information. The student must have intellectual ability to solve problems. The student must possess the ability of critical thinking and writing.
Motor skills: The student must have sufficient use of motor skills to carry out all necessary speech-language pathology procedures, both those involved in learning the fundamental sciences and those required in the clinical environment (internal and external placements). This includes the ability to; 1) participate in clinical responsibilities, 2) use diagnostic equipment and/or computer keyboard to operate clinical and laboratory equipment, and 3) access transportation to all clinical and academic placements.
Communication: The speech-language pathology student must have sufficient use of the senses of hearing and vision, and the English language (written and spoken) to communicate effectively with patients, faculty, staff, peers, and other health care professionals in both oral and written form.
Sensory abilities: The student must have sufficient use of the sense of vision, hearing, and touch to observe effectively in the classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings. Students must possess the ability to observe both close at hand and at a distance.
Behavior qualities: The student must possess emotional health sufficient to carry out the tasks above, must have good judgment, and must behave in a professional, reliable, mature, and responsible manner. The student must effectively manage the use of time and be able to systematize actions in order to complete professional and technical tasks with realistic constraints. The student must be adaptable, possessing sufficient flexibility to function in new and stressful environments. The student must be able to critically evaluate her/his own performance, be forthright about errors, accept constructive criticism, and show respect for individuals of diverse backgrounds, including but not limited to different age, ethnic background, religion, and/or sexual orientation. The student must exhibit professional behavior by conforming to appropriate standards of dress, appearance, language and public behavior. The student must uphold the Code of Ethics of the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the MA-SLP guidelines on professional behavior and the use of technology found in the graduate program handbook and the graduate guidance document.
Each student must continue to meet all of the essential functions set forth above, with or without reasonable accommodations. A student may be denied permission to continue in the program should the student fail at any time during the course of study to adequately demonstrate all the required essential functions.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has also outlined essential functions for the profession. You can view their document at the following web address:
Student Disabilities and Accommodations