§ 4451. Definitions
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Audiologist" means a person licensed to practice audiology under this chapter.
(2) "Audiology" means the application of principles, methods, and procedures related to hearing and the disorders of hearing, and to related language and speech disorders, which includes all conditions that impede the normal process of human communication, including disorders of auditory sensitivity, acuity, function, or processing.
(3) "Board" means the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(4) "Agency" means the Agency of Education.
(5) "Director" means the Director of the Office of Professional Regulation.
(6) "Disciplinary action" means any action taken by the administrative law officer appointed pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 129(j) against a licensee or applicant for licensure under this chapter, premised on a finding that the person has engaged in unprofessional conduct. "Disciplinary action" includes all sanctions of any kind, including obtaining injunctions, refusal to give an examination, refusal to grant or renew a license, suspension or revocation of a license, placement of limitations or restrictions upon a license, issuance of warnings, ordering restitution, and other similar sanctions.
(7) "Hearing aid" means an amplifying device to be worn by a person who is hard of hearing to improve hearing, including any accessories specifically used in connection with such a device, but excluding theater or auditorium wide-area listening devices, telephone amplifiers, or other devices designed to replace a hearing aid for restricted situations.
(8) "Practice of audiology" includes:
(A) facilitating the conservation of auditory system function, and developing and implementing environmental and occupational hearing conservation programs;
(B) screening, identifying, assessing and interpreting, diagnosing, preventing, and rehabilitating peripheral and central auditory system dysfunctions;
(C) providing and interpreting behavioral and electro-physiological measurements of auditory, vestibular, and facial nerve functions;
(D) selecting, fitting, and dispensing of hearing aids, amplification, assistive listening and alerting devices, implantable devices, and other systems, and providing training in their use;
(E) dispensing hearing aids, including conducting and interpreting hearing tests for the purpose of selecting suitable hearing aids;
(F) making ear molds or impressions;
(G) providing instruction to patients on the care and use of hearing aids, auditory system functions, and hearing conservation;
(H) all acts pertaining to selling, renting, leasing, pricing, delivering, and giving warranties for hearing aids;
(I) providing aural rehabilitation and related counseling services to individuals who are hard of hearing and their families;
(J) screening of speech-language and other factors affecting communication function for the purposes of an audiologic evaluation, or initial identification of individuals with other communication disorders; and
(K) management of cerumen.
(9) "The practice of speech-language pathology" includes:
(A) screening, identifying, assessing and interpreting, diagnosing, rehabilitating, and preventing disorders of language and speech, including disorders involving articulation, fluency, and voice;
(B) screening, identifying, assessing and interpreting, diagnosing, and rehabilitating disorders of oral-pharyngeal function, including dysphagia and related disorders;
(C) screening, identifying, assessing and interpreting, diagnosing and rehabilitating communication disorders;
(D) assessing, selecting, and developing augmentative and alternative communication systems, and providing training in their use;
(E) providing aural rehabilitation and related counseling services to individuals who are hard of hearing and their families;
(F) enhancing speech-language proficiency and communication effectiveness, including accent reduction; and
(G) screening of hearing and other factors for the purpose of speech-language evaluation, or the initial identification of individuals with other communication disorders.
(10) "Private practice" means any work performed by a licensed speech-language pathologist or audiologist that is not within the jurisdiction of the Board.
(11) "Secretary" means the Secretary of State.
(12) "Speech-language pathologist" means a person licensed to practice speech-language pathology under this chapter.
(13) "Speech-language pathology" means the application of principles, methods, and procedures related to the development and disorders of human communication, which include any and all conditions that impede the normal process of human communication.
(14) "Within the jurisdiction of the Board" means conduct or work performed by a licensed speech-language pathologist or audiologist on behalf of a supervisory union or public school district in Vermont or an independent school approved for special education purposes, or conduct otherwise subject to discipline under the licensing rules of the Board. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003; amended 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. July 1, 2007; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 276, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 182.)
§ 4452. Prohibitions; penalties
(a) No person shall:
(1) practice or attempt to practice audiology or speech-language pathology or hold oneself out as being permitted to do so in this state unless the person is licensed in accordance with this chapter;
(2) use in connection with the person's name, an insignia or any letters or words which indicate the person is an audiologist or a speech-language pathologist unless the person is licensed in accordance with this chapter; or
(3) practice audiology or speech-language pathology after the person's license under this chapter has been suspended or revoked.
(b) A person who violates a provision of this section or who obtains a license by fraud or misrepresentation shall be subject to the penalties provided in 3 V.S.A. § 127(c). (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. June 27, 2002; amended 2007, No. 29, § 72.)
§ 4453. Exemptions
The provisions of section 4452 of this title shall not apply to the following persons:
(1) A person enrolled in a course of study leading to a degree or certificate in audiology or speech-language pathology at a school accredited by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, provided:
(A) the activities and services performed constitute part of a supervised course of study;
(B) the person is designated by a title which clearly indicates the person's student or trainee status; and
(C) the person is under the direct supervision of an audiologist or speech-language pathologist licensed in this state.
(2) A hearing aid dispenser performing services within the scope of a license under chapter 67 of this title. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003.)
§ 4454. Construction
(a) This chapter shall not be construed to limit or restrict in any way the right of a practitioner of another occupation which is regulated by this state from performing services within the scope of his or her professional practice.
(b) This chapter shall not be construed to limit the authority of the board to determine and evaluate the qualifications of, issue licenses to, or discipline licensees who are within the jurisdiction of the board. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003; amended 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. July 1, 2007.)
§ 4455. Advisor appointees
(a) The Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, shall appoint two individuals to serve as advisors in matters related to audiology and speech-language pathology. One advisor shall be a licensed speech-language pathologist, and one advisor shall be an audiologist. Advisors who are speech-language pathologists or audiologists shall have not less than three years' experience as audiologists or speech-language pathologists immediately preceding appointment, and shall be actively engaged in the practice of audiology or speech-language pathology in Vermont during incumbency. The advisors shall be appointed for staggered terms of three years, and shall serve at the pleasure of the Secretary. One of the initial appointments may be for less than a three-year term.
(b) The Secretary shall seek the advice of the individuals appointed under this section in matters related to qualifications or alleged misconduct not within the jurisdiction of the Board. The advisors shall be entitled to compensation and necessary expenses as provided in 32 V.S.A. § 1010 for meetings called by the Director.
(c) The Secretary may seek the advice of other audiologists and speech-language pathologists licensed under this chapter. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003; amended 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. July 1, 2007; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 277, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 4456. Secretary of Education; duties
(a) The Secretary of Education shall administer the application and renewal process for all licensees under this chapter, and shall:
(1) provide information to applicants for licensure under this chapter;
(2) administer fees collected under this chapter;
(3) explain appeal procedures to licensees and applicants, and explain complaint procedures to the public;
(4) explain sanctions, including license revocation and suspension, which may be imposed in disciplinary cases, the criteria by which sanctions are selected, and procedures for reinstatement where appropriate;
(5) receive applications for licensure, grant licensure under this chapter, renew licenses, and deny, revoke, suspend, reinstate, or condition licenses as directed by the administrative law officer;
(6) refer all complaints and disciplinary matters not within the jurisdiction of the Board to the Secretary of State;
(7) with the advice of the advisor appointees, adopt rules necessary to implement the provisions of this chapter;
(8) prepare and maintain a registry of licensed speech-language pathologists and audiologists; and
(9) issue to each person licensed a certificate of licensure which shall be prima facie evidence of the right of the person to whom it is issued to practice as a licensed audiologist or speech-language pathologist, subject to the conditions and limitations of this chapter.
(b) The Agency may contract with the Secretary of State for provision of adjudicative services of one or more administrative law officers and other investigative, legal, and administrative services related to licensure and discipline of speech-language pathologists and audiologists. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003; amended 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. July 1, 2007; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 278, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 4457. Licensure; applications; eligibility
Applicants for licenses under this chapter shall submit an application to the department on a form furnished by the department, along with payment of the specified fee and evidence of the eligibility qualifications established by the board which shall include, at a minimum:
(1) A master's degree or equivalent in audiology or speech-language pathology from an educational institution approved by the department with course work completed in areas specified by rule.
(2) Completion of a supervised clinical practicum, the length and content of which shall be established by rule.
(3) Completion of a period, as determined by rule, of postgraduate professional training as approved by the department.
(4) Passing an examination in audiology or speech-language pathology approved by the department, which, in the case of the audiology examination, shall include a section which is equivalent to the hearing aid dispensers examination described in section 3295 of this title. Audiologists who have passed an examination chosen by the department are not required to take the hearing aid dispensers examination required by section 3295. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003; amended 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. July 1, 2007.)
§ 4458. Renewals; continuing education
(a) A license shall be renewed at an interval determined by the board which shall be no fewer than every two years and no more than every seven years upon payment of the renewal fee, provided the person applying for renewal completes professional development activities in accord with the processes approved by the department or the board, during the interval. The board shall establish, by rule, guidelines and criteria for the renewal or reinstatement of licenses issued under this chapter.
(b) At the time interval required for renewal, the department shall forward a renewal form to each licensee. Upon receipt of the completed application and the renewal fee, the department shall issue a new license. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003; amended 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. July 1, 2007.)
§ 4459. Fees
(a) Each applicant and licensee shall be subject to the following fees:
(1) Initial processing of application $35.00 (2) Issuance of initial license $35.00 per year for the term of the license (3) Renewal of license $35.00 per year for the term of the renewal (4) Replacement of license $10.00 (5) Duplicate license $3.00
(b) Fees collected under this section shall be credited to special funds established and managed pursuant to 32 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 5, and shall be available to the department to offset the costs of providing those services. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003.)
§ 4460. Records and equipment
(a) A licensee in private practice shall maintain records relating to goods and services provided by the licensee, and, upon request, shall make such records available to the director for review. A licensee shall maintain records required to be kept under this section for a period of at least seven years from the date the goods or services were provided.
(b) A licensee shall make testing equipment available for periodic inspection by the director or the director's designee, and shall have all testing equipment calibrated annually by the manufacturer or a qualified testing service in accordance with the American National Standards Institute specifications.
(c) The secretary shall adopt rules implementing the provisions of this section. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003.)
§ 4461. Prices to be disclosed
A licensee in private practice shall disclose in a clear and conspicuous manner the range of prices charged for goods and services. The disclosure schedule shall be posted in each licensee's office, and a written copy given to each client prior to any sale. Disclosures shall be in the manner set forth by the department, by rule. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003.)
§ 4462. Terms of sale; 45-day trial period
(a) All sales contracts for equipment sold by licensees in private practice to persons in this state, including, but not limited to, hearing aids and augmentative communications devices, shall contain a clause which requires the licensee to refund the full product price of the equipment, except for the cost of ear molds and service, up to 45 days from the date of delivery of any new or substantially refabricated equipment or aid if, in the opinion of the consumer, the equipment or aid is not satisfactory. If the returned equipment or aid is damaged while in the possession of the consumer, the amount refunded shall be reduced by the reasonable amount of the damage. The equipment or aid may not be sold thereafter as new. For purposes of this subsection, "cost of service" means the actual cost of the service provided to fit the hearing aid or install or prepare the equipment, but shall not exceed five percent of the sale price or $50.00, whichever is greater.
(b) The complete terms of the sale, including the terms of the 45-day trial period, the individual prices for goods and services sold and such other information as the director may require, shall be disclosed, in writing, to the consumer before the sale is completed.
(c) If the equipment or hearing aid is in the possession of the licensee, manufacturer, repair person, or their agents during the trial period, the period of time the equipment or hearing aid is in such possession shall not be included in the calculation of the 45-day trial period. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003.)
§ 4463. Maintenance of business address; display of license
A licensee in private practice shall maintain a Vermont business address, office, and telephone number at which the licensee can normally be reached, and shall conspicuously display a copy of the license at each place of business the licensee maintains. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003.)
§ 4464. Unprofessional conduct
(a) A licensee or applicant shall not engage in unprofessional conduct.
(b) Unprofessional conduct means the following conduct and the conduct set forth in 3 V.S.A. § 129a:
(1) Willfully making or filing false reports or records in the practice of audiology, dispensing hearing aids or speech-language pathology, willfully impeding or obstructing the proper making or filing of reports or records, or willfully failing to file the proper report or record;
(2) Aiding or abetting a person, directly or indirectly, to commit an unauthorized practice;
(3) Giving, offering to give, or causing to be given, directly or indirectly, money or anything of value to any person who advises another in a professional capacity, as an inducement for the professional to influence others to purchase goods or services from the licensee;
(4) Advertising or making a representation which is intended or has a tendency to deceive the public, including:
(A) advertising a particular type of service, equipment, or hearing aid when the particular service, equipment, or hearing aid is not available;
(B) stating or implying that the use of a hearing aid will retard the progression of a hearing impairment;
(C) advertising or making any statement related to the practice of speech-language pathology or audiology which is intended to or tends to deceive or mislead the public;
(D) using or promoting or causing the use of any misleading, deceiving, improbable, or untruthful advertising matter, promotional literature, testimonial guarantee, warranty, label, brand, insignia, or any other representation;
(5) Engaging in any unfair or deceptive act or practice within the meaning of 9 V.S.A. § 2453, relating to consumer protection;
(6) Willfully failing to honor any representation, promise, agreement, or warranty to a client or consumer;
(7) Professional negligence or malpractice;
(8) Any of the following, except when reasonably undertaken in an emergency situation in order to protect life or health:
(A) practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope permitted by law;
(B) accepting and performing professional or occupational responsibilities which the licensee knows or has reason to know the licensee is not competent to perform; or
(C) performing professional or occupational services which have not been authorized by the consumer or his or her legal representative;
(9) Failing to make available, upon request of a person using the licensee's services, copies of records or documents in the possession or under the control of the licensee, when those records or documents have been prepared in connection with the furnishing of services or goods to the requesting persons;
(10) Sexual harassment of a patient or client;
(11) Engaging in a sexual act as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3251 with a patient;
(12) Conviction of a crime related to the practice of audiology or speech-language pathology;
(13) Discouraging clients or consumers in any way from exercising their right to a refund within a 45-day trial period, unreasonably delaying payment of such refunds as may be due, or deducting amounts from refunds beyond those allowed by law;
(14) Failing to inform a consumer prior to sale of a hearing aid that a medical evaluation of hearing loss prior to purchasing a hearing aid is in the consumer's best health interest;
(15) Engaging in fraud in connection with any state or federally-assisted medical assistance programs; or
(16) Violating any part of the Code of Ethics of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. July 1, 2003; amended 2011, No. 136 (Adj. Sess.), § 1b, eff. May 18, 2012; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 183.)