What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?


Speech-Language Pathologists are professionals who have expertise in typical development and disorders of communication and swallowing and who identify, assess, diagnose and treat disorders of communication and swallowing.


Speech-Language Pathologists provide a number of different services related to effective communication and swallowing for the individuals they serve. They are involved in a number of different activities to promote effective communication. These activities may include:


-Assessment of communication and swallowing disorders, which may involve: screening, identification, evaluation, and diagnosis.


-Intervention for communication and swallowing disorders, which may involve: promotion, prevention, counselling, treatment, consultation, management, (re)habilitation, and education.


-Education and supervision of students and professionals, including supportive personnel.


-Consultation with and referral to other professionals.


Speech-Language Pathologists may work directly with clients, and/or with their caregivers and/or other persons who regularly interact with the client (e.g. friends, relatives, professionals, colleagues, supportive personnel) for the purpose of creating environments that promote optimal communication and swallowing.


Roles and Responsibilities


Speech-Language Pathologists provide a broad range of services and related activities including:


-Clinical and/or instrumental screening, assessment, identification, diagnosis, treatment, and management of:


1.  Speech delays and disorders including articulation, phonology, motor speech.

2.  Language delays and disorders including expression and comprehension in oral or non-verbal modalities.

3. Fluency disorders.

4. Voice and resonance disorders.

5. Swallowing and feeding disorders in adult and pediatric populations including oral-motor function.

6. Cognitive-communicative disorders including social communication skills, reasoning, problem solving, and executive functioning.

7. Preliteracy and literacy skills including phonological awareness, decoding, reading comprehension, and writing.

8. Communication and swallowing disorders in the context of other diagnoses or impairments including but not limited to hearing impairments, traumatic brain injury, dementia, developmental, intellectual or genetic disorders, and neurological impairments.

9. Assessment, selection, and development of augmentative and alternative communication systems and devices for individuals who are limited in their ability to communicate verbally, and provision of education and training in their use.

10. Promotion, prevention, counseling, and education services to clients, families, caregivers, other professionals, and the public regarding all aspects of human communication, and disorders of communication and swallowing.

11. Enhancement of speech and language proficiency and communication effectiveness including accent modification.


Practice Setting


Speech-Language Pathologists work in a variety of health and education settings, including but not limited to hospitals, public health units, community health centres, schools, private practice, professional associations, universities, colleges and long term care facilities. Speech-Language Pathologists may function independently or within an inter-professional framework, collaborating with a variety of professionals.


Approved by the CASLP-NL Board of Directors, October 11, 2012

Footnote: Scope of Practice for Speech-Language Pathology, Speech and Audiology Canada (SAC)