The State of Affairs at AAA 2020
By Gail Whitelaw, PhD
At AAA 2020 + HearTECH Expo, we are offering a reinvented state event, State Showcase, replacing the State Fair event of previous conferences. This new event features an educational component, recognition of state audiology organization activities, state recognitions, and a state outreach contest.
Beignets and coffee will add a special New Orleans touch to this new event. Hosted in the HearTECH Expo on Friday, April 3, this event will connect attendees to each other and provide opportunities to learn about legislative priorities within and across states. The educational component will be offered (1:00–1:30 pm) in the Future Hub, the heart of the expo hall, while the outreach contest (1:30–2:00 pm) will be in the Attendee Lounge in the expo hall.
Academy and State Advocacy
Much of the Academy’s advocacy messaging over the last year has been about the organizational efforts to advance our federal legislative platform, namely our joint audiology bill. The joint bill—the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2019—is indeed a significant effort by the Academy, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and American Doctors of Audiology (ADA), and tracking the progress of the bill is important. However, this work does not negate the equally powerful and impactful activities occurring at the state level.
Legislation and regulation in our states have direct impact on audiology practice, both locally and nationally, and a knowledge of and understanding of these issues is critical. We are certainly seeing this as we track common bills across states, such as adoption of the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Licensure Compact (ASLP-LC) language.
The State Relations Committee (SRC) is a standing committee within the Academy dedicated to facilitating communications and exchange of resources with and across states to support advocacy efforts. Under the leadership of the current chair, Aaron Roman, AuD, the committee is focused on advancing the goals of the Academy at the state level through expanded communications with state audiology organizations and establishing outreach with representatives of other states without these organizations.
Aaron’s dynamic leadership, combined with the energy of his committee members, has the SRC engaged in a variety of efforts and was also the catalyst for change to the State Showcase. Aaron has worked with Ursula Findlen, AuD, the chair of the Academy’s Health-Care Relations (HCR) Committee, to re-invigorate state activities and to take the State Showcase to a new level that can be more effective for the state participants and the attendees.
State Showcase Features
The State Showcase will start in the Future Hub with panel presentations on the state-level activities to shape the future for the profession. From 1:00–1:30 pm on Friday, April 3, representatives of different states will provide rapid-fire updates on current and future advocacy priorities. This fast-paced session will offer insights into the range and overlap of issues that audiologists face at the state level. State audiology organizations and state representatives have been asked to submit more detailed information that will be compiled into a handout.
The State Showcase will continue beyond the panels to more informal information exchange and networking in the Attendee Lounge, 1:30–2:30 pm. Attendees can meet other audiologists from their states, as well as learn more about activities going on in other states. The SRC will also highlight state advocacy efforts with advocacy recognition awards presented during the Showcase.
State Spirit Contest
State advocacy organizations, as well as collaboratives of audiologists within states, are also very effective in outreach activities. These outreach activities are often tied to advocacy efforts, but they may also be tied to general public awareness efforts about audiology.
The Academy recognizes that many states have developed highly effective outreach campaigns due to the level of engagement of the audiologists in the state. The SRC, in collaboration with the HCR Committee, has established the “State Spirit Award” to give the state groups a chance to demonstrate how effective they can be. This challenge involves a state group creating a hashtag that best represents audiology in their state and encouraging members and fellow audiologists in the state to use it between March 1 and April 1. The state with the most interactions will win! Support the contest in your state and/or come to the State Showcase and celebrate the winning hashtag#.
If you want to be involved in the State Showcase or to find out more information, please contact Kathleen Bishop, the advocacy coordinator in the Academy office. I also urge members to contact Aaron Roman for more information about the SRC or to be a designated state advocacy representative.
Review the full schedule of educational opportunities and activities at AAA 2020 + HearTECH Expo, April 1–4, in New Orleans.
Gail Whitelaw, AuD, is the chair of the Academy’s Advocacy Council.