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Public Health Disciplines: Speech Pathology
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Speech Pathology

Discipline Description

Education Requirement


Speech-language pathology is the study of human communication disorders. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) provides services that assist people who experience communication and swallowing difficulties, including speech, articulation (pronunciation), language (understanding and expressing ideas), fluency (stuttering), and voice production. These difficulties may be caused by accidents, genetic disorders or by delayed development. Services may be provided to people of all ages. Referrals to a speech-language pathologist are made by family doctors, public health nurses, infant development specialists, pre-school teachers or social workers. Self-referrals can also be made.

SLPs are employed in a variety of settings such as hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centres, public health units, long-term care facilities, universities, and private practice clinics. Many SLPs are specialized and work with specific populations or disorders, such as child language, learning disabilities, developmental delays, autism, articulation/phonology, fluency, voice, swallowing, neurogenics, dementia, and acquired brain injury. They often work closely with audiologists in treating the problems of hearing-impaired persons.

Speech-language services provided by public health units focus on improving communication skills and supporting use of these skills in activities of daily life.

The minimum qualification for professional practice is a Master's degree in speech-language pathology (or its equivalent) from a recognized university.

Undergraduate studies needed to enter at the master's level include courses in psychology, physiology, linguistics, education, human sciences and health sciences. Universities should be contacted directly regarding full course content, prerequisites and admission policies.

Upon completion of studies, graduates must meet provincial licensure and certification requirements in order to practice. In Ontario, the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario is the profession's governing body.

For a list of the 9 Canadian universities offering a Master's degree in speech-language pathology, please visit the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists' web site.

This information was compiled from a variety of Canadian sources. To the best our knowledge, it is current as of January 2004.

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