Oklahoma Speech-Language-Hearing Association Website: www.oslha.org Facebook page: Oklahoma Speech-Language-Hearing Association Members: 423 Established: 1959 Contact: Sarah Baker, president, office@oslha.org or 405-802-1630 How are you making a difference in your members’ professional lives? With all the current challenges and changes to health care, the biggest difference we make is keeping our members informed about ... State Spotlight
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State Spotlight  |   May 01, 2014
Oklahoma Speech-Language-Hearing Association
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ASHA News & Member Stories / State Spotlight
State Spotlight   |   May 01, 2014
Oklahoma Speech-Language-Hearing Association
The ASHA Leader, May 2014, Vol. 19, 76. doi:10.1044/leader.STSP.19052014.76
The ASHA Leader, May 2014, Vol. 19, 76. doi:10.1044/leader.STSP.19052014.76
Website: www.oslha.org
Facebook page: Oklahoma Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Members: 423
Established: 1959
Contact: Sarah Baker, president, office@oslha.org or 405-802-1630
How are you making a difference in your members’ professional lives?
With all the current challenges and changes to health care, the biggest difference we make is keeping our members informed about these changes and how to advocate for themselves and their clients.
We also have responded to several changes by the Oklahoma State Department of Education related to contracted service providers and to professional evaluations for school-based speech-language pathologists. OSHA has advocated for SLPs in the public schools and asked for more transparency in policies that affect SLPs and audiologists. We have representation on a legislative task force addressing shortages of special educators and related services providers.
OSHA continues to foster a relationship with the state Medicaid agency. This relationship has become more important as Medicaid has implemented stricter standards for speech-language evaluations and treatments, standards that result in cumbersome and tedious processes for prior authorization. OSHA also sends representatives to state licensure board meetings to provide input on licensing practices as they relate to SLPs, speech-language pathology assistants and audiologists in schools and medical settings.
What is a particularly memorable event in your association’s history and how did it come about?
A grassroots movement culminated in 2009 in an annual $5,000 bonus for certified school-based SLPs, psychologists and audiologists, but each year we have faced challenges to continued funding. This year, after a more than two-year struggle with the state department of education, OSHA and the Oklahoma School Psychological Association cleared up confusion regarding national teacher certification bonuses. When a moratorium on bonuses was placed on new teachers in 2011, the education department interpreted the legislation to include SLPs, school psychologists and audiologists. OSHA—which had helped to write the certification laws—determined that certified teacher bonuses were covered under different legislation than bonuses for certified SLPs, audiologists and school psychologists, and the moratorium should never have been implemented for these professionals. We obtained an opinion from the Oklahoma attorney general supporting our position and, as a result, all newly and previously certified SLPs, audiologists and school psychologists received full bonuses this year. We are still advocating for back years’ bonuses. In addition, the lobbying efforts for the state supplement prompted many individual districts to offer salary supplements to SLPs.
Every year OSHA holds a Capitol Day—in partnership with the OSPA—during Better Hearing and Speech Month. We give brownies and ice cream to about 400 legislators, staff and the public; provide free hearing screenings; and distribute 150 bags with information about communication and mental health issues to legislators. Many students join the audiologists and SLPs who participate, visiting their legislators to advocate on behalf of the professions and to make critical political contacts.
Do you have a particularly successful advocacy or recruitment strategy to share?
OSHA’s presence on Facebook has been instrumental in recruiting new members, especially new graduates and the younger generation of SLPs and audiologists.
Our annual OSHA convention is also a benefit for members. We offer a two-day conference with a variety of health care, school and audiology tracts. Members receive a significant discount on the conference rate.
Last year, OSHA gave gift bags to all master’s-level graduates and speech-language pathology assistant program graduates, encouraging them to join and giving them a few tools to start their careers.
What should every communication sciences and disorders professional in your state know about the association?
OSHA leaders and members are advocating and fighting for our profession. OSHA is the only Oklahoma professional group officially recognized by and supported by ASHA. Every Oklahoma communication sciences and disorders professional should be a member, because it truly does make a difference in the quality of our work. Everyone is welcome to help build, learn, grow and partner with OSHA for increased quality of communication services for our state.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
May 2014
Volume 19, Issue 5