The buzz isn’t new; telepractice has been around the field of speech-language pathology for more than a few years. Some of us are working in a telepractice context full-time, others “dabble,” and still others know people who use telepractice but haven’t tried it themselves. ASHA’s new Special Interest Group (SIG) on Telepractice, however, may be signaling an important shift in the way that this service delivery model is coming into more mainstream practice.
As a member of ASHA’s SIG 1, I received a recent listserv email on telepractice wondering how publishers see their role in this service delivery model. In addition to consistent calls and contacts over the last few years, we see questions and issues that prompt our thoughtful response. We do see the use of our tools, assessments in particular, in a telepractice context as something we can and should address. The demand has grown tremendously over the last years and we want to respond in good order.
The simple fact is that equating studies need to be done on each test under particular conditions to determine whether or not scores change significantly in a different delivery context. We don’t have published tools (yet) that include the telepractice context in standardization so it’s an empirical question to answer—that is, do examinees perform similarly or differently when the assessment is delivered through telepractice? In addition, a number of different physical scenarios may be considered “telepractice” (this is not an exhaustive list):
- A physical stimulus book/easel at the examinee site (with or without a facilitator also present); the examiner gives the verbal stimulus through telepractice, but the visual stimulus is in print with the examinee.
- A physical stimulus book/easel at the examiner site; the examiner moves the camera to show the visual (with accompanying verbal) stimuli through telepractice.
- A digital stimulus book/easel on the computer screen; the examiner may or may not also be in view; the examinee responds verbally, by mouse click, or by touchscreen input.
There are many variables to consider. Of course, some tests lend themselves to telepractice better than others, so it’s really dependent on the tool and the format. A “one-size-fits-all” approach isn’t a wise option, but key strategies may be universal and maintain all the appropriate best practices we know so well about assessment in general.
Certainly, we also monitor and consider ASHA’s guidelines (as well as the draft APA Standards document that is now out for review). Our input would be to participate as appropriate in the conversations and practically extend established guidelines into individual test contexts.
What are your thoughts on the use of assessments in telepractice? Chime in below!