Alaska Speech-Language-Hearing Association Website: www.aksha.org Facebook: Alaska Speech and Hearing Association Established: 1966 Members: 145 Contact: Amy Russell, president, aksha907@gmail.com, 907-350-5363 Alaska is a big state and it can be difficult to connect with the many audiologists and speech-language pathologists in the state. AKSHA provides continuing education opportunities through our annual state ... State Spotlight
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State Spotlight  |   November 01, 2015
Alaska Speech-Language-Hearing Association
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Hearing & Speech Perception / State Spotlight
State Spotlight   |   November 01, 2015
Alaska Speech-Language-Hearing Association
The ASHA Leader, November 2015, Vol. 20, 70. doi:10.1044/leader.STSP.20112015.70
The ASHA Leader, November 2015, Vol. 20, 70. doi:10.1044/leader.STSP.20112015.70
Website: www.aksha.org
Facebook: Alaska Speech and Hearing Association
Established: 1966
Members: 145
Contact: Amy Russell, president, aksha907@gmail.com, 907-350-5363
How are you making a difference in your members’ professional lives?
Alaska is a big state and it can be difficult to connect with the many audiologists and speech-language pathologists in the state. AKSHA provides continuing education opportunities through our annual state convention. Over two and a half days, we provide top-notch speakers from across the country and beyond. We are also providing effective advocacy and are working with various state departments to advance the professions through advocacy and regulations.
What is your association’s proudest accomplishment?
AKSHA helped achieve state licensure for audiologists and SLPs in 1986. Prior to that time, people in this vast, rural state were able to provide speech-language treatment without the credentials and at a great loss to Alaskans with communication disorders.
What is the most significant challenge, unique circumstance or pressing frustration facing communication sciences and disorders professionals in your state today?
We struggle with several issues:
  • Alaska has a shortage of professionals in our school settings. There is no in-state university program; the only option for students in Alaska is distance-learning programs.

  • Telepractice is not regulated in Alaska, nor is it funded for those outside some school districts and hospitals, but in a state as large and rural as ours it is necessary. However, we don’t have the bandwidth we need to provide services. Many people are flown into the larger cities for services at a great cost.

  • Alaska has indigenous people with unique cultural values that encompass their communication.

What is a particularly memorable event in your association’s history and how did it come about?
In 2001, one of our members noticed a public notice in the paper about our state’s Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) initiative to change the requirement for SLPs working in schools from a master’s degree to a bachelor’s degree. AKSHA quickly activated members with a grassroots effort to stop DEED from lowering this requirement. We had parents, educators and members of other professional groups calling our legislators and participating in public hearings. The initiative was defeated within two weeks.
AKSHA also received an ASHA grant to create our own Medicaid manual that the state adopted. Prior to this, we had no manual for providers that included the regulations and rules, leaving all those billing Medicaid at high risk for punitive audits.
What should every communication sciences and disorders professional in your state know about the association?
AKSHA is one of only two continuing education providers in Alaska. We host some of the world’s most well-known speakers in communication sciences and disorders! Also we have a great, active association!
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FROM THIS ISSUE
November 2015
Volume 20, Issue 11