Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
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News and Updates
Commission Adopts Rules
December 28, 2021
The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted amendments to existing rules at 16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 111, Subchapter A, §111.2; Subchapter E, §111.41; Subchapter F, §111.50 and §111.51; Subchapter J, §111.91 and §111.92; and Subchapter V, §111.210 and §111.211; adopted a new rule at Subchapter V, §111.212; and adopted the repeal of existing rules at Subchapter V, §§111.212-111.216, and Subchapter X, §§111.230-111.232, regarding the Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists program. The adopted rules implement the telehealth emergency rules on a permanent basis; implement SB 40, 87th Legislature, Regular Session (2021); and include changes as a result of the four-year rule review related to telehealth and remote supervision (tele-supervision). The adopted rules also reorganize the current provisions and eliminate duplicative provisions.
The adoption justification was published in the December 24, 2021, issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 9021). The updated rule chapter will be made available upon its effective date of December 30, 2021.
Over-the-Counter Category Coming for Hearing Instruments
October 28, 2021
Hearing instruments or hearing aids are regulated at the federal level as medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Changes are being made at the federal level regarding hearing instruments that will affect two of TDLR’s programs, the Hearing Instrument Fitters and Dispensers program and the Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists program. These two programs regulate the fitting and dispensing of hearing instruments by Texas licensees.
In August 2017, the U.S. Congress passed the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (FDARA) | FDA, which in part defined “over-the-counter hearing aid,” required the FDA to establish a category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, and specified certain requirements that must be included in the FDA regulations. On October 20, 2021, the FDA published proposed regulations for public comment. These proposed regulations establish the OTC category and realign other regulations for hearing aids. The FDA will eventually publish final regulations, taking public comments into account.
You will find the proposed regulations published in the Federal Register, 86 FR 58150. Electronic or written comments on the proposed regulations must be submitted to the FDA by January 18, 2022. The Federal Register notice includes all the details about submitting public comments.
The FDA has issued a letter clarifying that the over-the-counter category of hearing aids does not exist until the effective date of published final regulations. Licensed Hearing Instrument Fitters and Dispensers and licensed Audiologists may wish to visit the FDA’s website on hearing aids for additional information.
Continuing Education Requirements
October 25, 2021
HB 1560, the Sunset legislation for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, repealed Occupations Code §401.355 from the Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists statute, and transferred authority regarding the continuing education requirements to TDLR’s enabling statute, Chapter 51 of the Texas Occupations Code.
Please note that no changes were made, and Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists program licensees are still required to obtain continuing education (CE) credits as specified in the program rules.
Commission Adopts Emergency Rules
August 30, 2021
The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted the emergency amendments to existing rules at 16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 111, Subchapter A, §111.2; Subchapter E, §111.41; Subchapter F, §111.50 and §111.51; Subchapter J, §111.91 and §111.92; Subchapter V, §§111.210-111.212 and §111.215; and Subchapter X, §§111.230-111.232; and the emergency repeal of existing rules at Subchapter V, §111.213 and §111.216, regarding the Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists program.
The adopted emergency amendments and repeals (emergency rules) reflect the waivers that were granted by the Governor during the COVID-19 pandemic to remove restrictions and to expand the provision of services to clients and supervision of certain licensees through telehealth. These waivers are terminated effective September 1, 2021, and the emergency rules will ensure that services to clients and supervision of certain licensees may continue to be provided through telehealth as was allowed under the waivers until permanent rules are adopted. The emergency rules also reflect the change in the statutory authority regarding telehealth. The emergency rules are necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. The emergency rules are effective September 1, 2021.
The emergency adoption justification was published in the August 27, 2021, issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 5313). The emergency adoption justification and the emergency rules may be viewed in the Texas Register or on the Department’s website.
TDLR Health Monitor – August 2021 Edition
August 26, 2021
Articles in this August 2021 edition of The Health Monitor includes updates on:
- 2021 Legislative Session
- Commissioner Spotlight
- Athletic Trainers Mark 50 Years
- Revised Massage Therapy Sample Consultation Document Available
- How to File a Complaint
Emergency License Extensions for SLP and Audiology Interns
May 18, 2021
Are you a SLP intern or an audiology intern? Do you need a few extra weeks to complete your internship? If your license expires between now and September 19, 2021, you have an additional 120 days to complete your internship requirements before applying for your speech-language pathology or audiology license upgrade. This extension was approved by TDLR Executive Director Brian Francis.
Please check our website at https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/emergency-licenses.htm for general information about emergency license extensions. We are working to update the information on the webpage and to update the licenses included in the emergency license extension database.
If you anticipate needing more than the additional 120 days to complete your internship, you will need to renew your license based on the original expiration date. You may continue to work under your license as allowed by the extension while waiting for the renewal to be processed.
- New license certificates/wallet cards with the updated expiration date will not be mailed.
- The TDLR online License Search database information will not reflect the emergency license, and expiration dates for the original license will not change. Please use the license search on the Emergency License Extensions Due to COVID-19 webpage to verify your new expiration date. This emergency database will be updated soon to include the newly added licenses which expire between May 21 and September 19, 2021.
- Under this emergency authorization, if your license expired between August 1, 2020 and September 19, 2021, you will still be able to work for up to 120 days after your expiration date.
- Due to COVID-19, TDLR is facing an unprecedented challenge with processing paper renewals and applications. When your internship is finished, please apply for the upgraded speech-language pathology license or audiology license using the online system. TDLR’s online licensing portal accepts all major credit cards, including MasterCard and Visa branded gift cards, and electronic checks.
- TDLR is working as quickly as possible to process all payments that are included with your application. Please be advised that stopping payment through your financial institution will delay and/or stop your application from processing.
TDLR Health Monitor – May 2021 Edition
May 13, 2021
Articles in this May 2021 edition of The Health Monitor include updates on:
- 2021 Legislative Session
- Emergency License Extensions in Response to COVID-19 Delays
- Meet Commissioner Callas
- New Open Records Portal
- New Way to Pay for Online Applications
- Fingerprint Reminder for Massage Therapy Licensees
Rule Review Adoption Justification
March 26, 2021
At its meeting held March 3, 2021, the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted the rule review of 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 111, Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, effective March 15, 2021.
The rule review adoption was published in the March 26, 2021, issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 2050).
TDLR encourages all persons interested in the Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists program to review the rule review adoption. The adoption justification is available online.
Rule Review Adoption Justification
March 26, 2021
At their meeting held March 3, 2021, the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted the rule review of 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 100, General Provisions for Health-Related Programs, effective March 15, 2021.
The rule review adoption was published in the March 26, 2021 issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 2050).
TDLR encourages all persons interested in the General Provisions for Health-Related Programs to review the rule review adoption. The adoption justification is available online.
Call for Subject Matter Experts
February 26, 2020
TDLR is seeking subject matter experts (SMEs) to assist our Enforcement Division with complaint case reviews. SMEs review complaint cases, generally involving standard of care issues, during the investigation stage of the enforcement process.
We currently have a shortage of Behavior Analyst, Podiatrist, and Speech-Language Pathologist SMEs.
If you are interested in becoming a SME, please complete the Expert Witness Application. Once the application is submitted, you will receive a questionnaire to complete and return. Documents are screened and contracts are issued to approved SMEs.
All SMEs receive training on their role in reviewing complaint cases. Tasks may include the following:
- Reviewing documents and statements collected by investigators.
- Writing a report stating an opinion as to whether the respondent violated a rule or law in the provision of care to a client.
- Answering specific questions from the prosecutor about the case.
- Testifying as a witness for TDLR at hearings.
Our mission is to protect the citizens of Texas and the hard-working members of your profession. We cannot do that without your specialized knowledge of the complexities of your profession. Please consider becoming a SME today.
TDLR Health Monitor – February 2021 Edition
February 24, 2021
Articles in this February 2021 edition of The Health Monitor include updates on:
- 87th Session of the Texas Legislature
- Emergency License Extensions in Response to COVID-19 Delays
- Program Rule Changes
- Call for Subject Matter Experts
- New HHSC-Approved Human Trafficking Training Courses Available
Notice to prospective licensees, current licensees renewing their licenses, and stakeholders
December 4, 2020
Applicants can apply for new licenses and renew licenses online. TDLR strongly encourages you to take advantage of the opportunity to apply or renew online. The process is secure and easy to use – and faster than submitting paper-based applications and supporting documents, especially as TDLR deals with significant staffing issues related to COVID-19.
- Applications submitted online can take 30 days to process once TDLR receives all required documents.
- Applications submitted by mail may face significant delays, which may take up to 90 days once TDLR receives all required documents.
If you need to submit a transcript, please ask your university to send electronic transcripts to TDLR at email@example.com instead of mailing in an original or certified copy of an original transcript. If your need to submit other documents, such as receipt of fingerprint submission, please scan the document and send it electronically to TDLR using our Customer Service form.
Thank you for helping us process your application or renewal more quickly.
86th Legislative Session Update
May 27, 2020
Notice to Health Care Practitioners of New Training Requirement
House Bill 2059 requires certain health care practitioners to complete a Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) approved human trafficking prevention training course to renew their license. The bill also requires HHSC to post a list of approved courses on their website. Licensees are required to comply with the training requirements beginning September 1, 2020. For more information, visit our Human Trafficking Prevention Training for Health Care Practitioners webpage.
Clarification on Continuation of Telehealth Services for the Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Program
May 8, 2020
TDLR’s statute and rule suspensions, which allow speech-language pathology (SLP) interns and SLP assistants to provide services and receive supervision through telehealth, were approved pursuant to Governor Abbott’s Disaster Declaration, which was issued on March 13, 2020. (See TDLR announcement on April 9, 2020, regarding the granted suspensions). These suspensions continue in effect until terminated by the Office of the Governor.
The suspension of the TDLR rules to allow SLP interns and SLP assistants to provide telehealth services is separate from the HHSC/Medicaid requirements regarding reimbursement for telehealth services. Please continue to confirm reimbursement policies with the billing entities you are working with. Eligibility for reimbursement does not affect a licensee’s ability to provide services through telehealth.
If you have not already done so, please sign up for email notices from TDLR regarding the Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists program and any COVID-19 updates. TDLR will notify its email subscribers when any granted suspensions will be coming to an end, and will post a notice to the TDLR COVID-19 webpage.
COVID-19 Update: Required Grades for a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant License
May 6, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic caused universities to close their campuses and switch to online classes and led many universities to adopt a pass/fail grading policy for the 2020 spring semester.
Current Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists program rules, 16 TAC §111.50(a)(2) and §111.50(b)(1)(A), require applicants for a speech-language pathology assistant license to have earned at least 24 semester hours in speech-language pathology and/or audiology with a grade of “C” or better.
For the spring 2020 semester only, TDLR will accept a "passing" grade as meeting the requirement of a grade of "C" or better for undergraduate students applying for a speech-language pathology assistant license.
The number and type of required semester credit hours will remain the same: 18 of the 24 semester credit hours must be in speech-language pathology, with at least three (3) credit hours in language disorders and at least three (3) credit hours in speech disorders. The 24 semester credit hours exclude course work such as special education, deaf education, or sign language. The 24 semester credit hours must be academic course work and excludes any clinical experience.
Governor Approves Regulatory Suspensions to Facilitate Services to Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist Clients During the COVID-19 Pandemic
April 9, 2020
To help combat the spread of Coronavirus, TDLR requested and received authority from Governor Greg Abbott to suspend certain regulatory requirements, to the extent necessary, to allow licensees of the Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist program to provide more services to clients through telehealth and to ease other licensing restrictions.
These suspensions are in effect until terminated by the Office of the Governor or until the March 13, 2020 disaster declaration is lifted or expires. In accordance with Section 418.016 of the Texas Government Code, the Office of the Governor has granted TDLR’s request to suspend the following provisions:
Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) interns may now receive direct supervision through telehealth. The SLP internship is at least 36 weeks and 1,260 hours, divided into three (3) segments with no fewer than thirty-six (36) clock hours of supervisory activities to include:
- six (6) hours of direct supervision per segment by the supervisor(s) of the intern's client contact in which the intern provides screening, evaluation, assessment, habilitation, and rehabilitation; and
- six (6) hours of indirect supervision per segment with the supervisor(s) which may include correspondence, review of videos, evaluation of written reports, phone conferences with the intern, and evaluations by professional colleagues.
As a result of the suspension, all supervision hours—both direct and indirect—may be conducted through telehealth (suspension of 16 TAC §111.2(15), (23), and (25) and §111.213(c)).
Under a previous suspension granted by the Governor, SLP assistants may receive 100 percent of their monthly supervision through telehealth. Supervisors must provide a minimum of four hours of direct supervision each month and four hours of indirect supervision each month. Supervisors may use telehealth for both direct and indirect supervision (suspension of 16 TAC §111.51(g)(1) and (4); §111.2(14), (23), and (24); and §111.213(b)(1) and (2)).
Audiology assistants may now be supervised for all assigned tasks through telehealth (suspension of 16 TAC §111.2(14), (23), and (24); §111.91(f) and §111.216(b)).
Audiology interns are allowed to be supervised for all assigned tasks through telehealth (no suspension of the rules was required).
For all licensees approved to provide telehealth services:
- A smart phone, or any audio-visual, real-time, or two-way interactive communication system, qualifies as telecommunications technology and may now be used to provide telehealth services, as well as telehealth services related to fitting and dispensing hearing instruments (suspension of 16 TAC §§111.210(7)-(12), §111.213(d), §111.216(c), §§111.231(9)-(12) and §§111.232(b), (d) and (i)).
- The same code of ethics and professional standards apply whether a client is seen via telehealth or an in-person visit as required under 16 TAC §111.212 and §111.215.
- SLP interns may now provide services to clients remotely using telehealth (suspension of 16 TAC §111.210(5)).
- SLP assistants may now provide services through telehealth, as directed by their supervisor, according to the SLP assistant practice and duties under 16 TAC §111.52 (suspension of §111.210(5)).
Audiologists and Audiology Interns:
- Audiologists and audiology interns who fit and dispense hearing instruments through telehealth are no longer required to conduct an initial professional contact in person at the same physical location (suspension of 16 TAC §111.232(j)).
Services provided through telehealth must be performed with the same standard of care as in-person health care and within the licensee’s scope of practice and competence. The equipment used must be appropriate for the situation and properly working as required under 16 TAC §111.232(h) and (i).
If a facilitator assists with the provision of telehealth services, no prior training is necessary if the provider determines that the facilitator has the competence needed to assist with the services given (suspension of 16 TAC §111.232(e) and (f)(1)).
Licensees who need additional information on billing policies relating to the provision of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic should contact Texas Health and Human Services Medicaid or managed care organizations (MCOs), as policies are changing rapidly. It is critical to check with your payor before initiating a new type of service or service delivery model, such as telehealth.
Before providing telehealth services, licensees should verify the applicability of other requirements and obligations, such as HIPAA and other medical and personal privacy requirements.
COVID-19: TDLR Waives Continuing Education, Other Requirements
March 24, 2020
To help combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, TDLR requested authority from Governor Greg Abbott to suspend certain regulatory requirements statewide, including the following:
- Speech-Language Pathology assistants may receive 100 percent of their monthly supervision through telehealth. Supervisors must provide a minimum of four hours of direct supervision each month and four hours of indirect supervision each month. Supervisors may use telehealth for all supervision of SLP assistants (16 TAC §111.51(g)(1) and (4) and §111.213(b)(1) and (2)).
- Continuing education requirements are waived for all licenses expiring in March, April, and May 2020. Licensees will still submit their renewal applications, pay the required fees, and have their criminal histories checked but they will not need to complete any required continuing education requirements this licensing cycle. (51.405, Occupations Code)
Please check the TDLR COVID-19 webpage for the most up-to-date information.
Advisory Board Meetings
November 2, 2021
The Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Advisory Board met November 2, 2021 via videoconference. The agenda and staff reports are available online. The meeting was archived and is available on TDLR's YouTube channel.