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Starkey Equal - July 2024

Interview with Cheryl DeConde Johnson EdD, Chair, American Board of Audiology

Cheryl DeConde Johnson, EdD

June 29, 2000


AO/Beck: Good Evening Dr. DeConde Johnson, thanks for spending some time with me tonight. Congratulations on your recent American Academy of Audiology Professional Achievement Award. That's a fantastic accomplishment and you certainly deserve it! Tonight, I'd like to learn about the ABA and a little about your background too. Please tell me a little about yourself.

ABA/DeConde Johnson: I am a consultant for Audiology + Deaf Education Services with the Colorado Department of Education. I've been with the Dept. of Ed. since 1990, but I've been full-time for only the last two years. Prior to that, I was an educational audiologist with the public schools in Greeley, Colorado for 22 years.

AO/Beck: So your personal area of expertise is obviously educational audiology. For interested readers, can you tell me about your book?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: The book is titled 'Educational Audiology Handbook' and it was published by Singular. I had two co-authors, Peggy Von Almen Benson Ed.S. and Jane Seaton M.S. The book really focuses of the unique educational features of audiology practices rather on basic assessment and amplification procedures. Jane and I are starting to work on a revision of the handbook and we hope to have it available soon.

AO/Beck: My understanding is that you were one of the founders/creators of the American Board of Audiology. Tell me please, who else is on the ABA Board and what is the primary function of the ABA?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: The ABA started within the Academy as a task force about five years ago while I was serving as the Education Chair on the Academy Board. The ABA is currently chaired by Robert Keith Ph.D. Other Board Members include Terrey Oliver Penn, Georgine Rey, Dennis Van Vleet, John Ziegler and Sharon Fujikawa serves as the Academy liaison. We currently have a position open for the consumer/public member. The primary function of the ABA is to offer an independent certification option for audiologists which does not require membership in any professional organization. The ABA offers recognition which we believe increases autonomy and independence for the practitioner and the profession. I believe ABA board certification goes above and beyond other certification programs in that it requires one year of professional mentored experience as well as a continuing education for certificants in the areas of professional ethics and rehabilitation.

AO/Beck: Is the ABA independent, or is it an Academy offspring at this time?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: The ABA is currently managed as an independent committee under the Academy and we hope it'll soon be independent. At this time, the financial backing comes from the Academy. The Academy is committed to supporting the ABA until such time as the ABA becomes financially self-sufficient.

AO/Beck: What is the cost for an audiologist to acquire the ABA board certification?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: The cost involves three fees: the application fee, the annual certification fee and the recertification fee. The application fee is $75.00 and that's a one-time fee. The annual certification fee is also $75.00. However, if an audiologist submits payment for the three annual fees at the time of application, they get a discount. Every three years, audiologists need to get recertified and the fee for that is $50.00.

AO/ Beck: Cheryl, what are the three categories for certification?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: The 'provisional board certification' category is for traditional residential students who have recently completed their programs. At this time, new practitioners only need an MA/MS to apply for this option. However, by 2007, all new applicants for the ABA certification program will be required to have an Au.D. Degree. The ABA Board of Governors may consider changing this requirement to a doctorate level degree in audiology. New practitioners need to send their transcripts to ABA, take a national exam in audiology and identify a mentor to plan and complete their professional practice year. Once they complete their professional practice year, the mentor signs off on the application, the Board reviews the application and the determination is made whether or not to grant full Board Certification.

The second category is reciprocal eligibility. This is for the practicing audiologist who holds a current state license in audiology. Audiologists who apply in this category must submit an official transcript from their graduate program in audiology, provide information about their employment history and professional experience and submit a copy of their current state license.

The third category is for a practicing audiologist who does not hold state licensure as an audiologist. Applicants in this category need to submit an official transcript confirming their graduate degree in audiology, a copy of their exam score from a national examination in audiology and verification of completion of a minimum of 2000 hours of professional practice within a two year time period along with their completed application.

AO/Beck: What is required to be a mentor?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: The mentor can essentially be anyone licensed to practice audiology or is certified by ABA. We are hopeful that individuals involved will take the responsibility to ensure that their mentor is highly experienced and can provide a detailed and thorough professional experience year for the new audiologist. Again, the mentor and the new graduate will have to submit a plan to the ABA for approval at the beginning of the professional practice year. Then, ABA will review the application to be sure the plan is appropriate for both parties in the mentoring relationship.

AO/Beck: So in essence, anyone licensed as an audiologist or who is Board certified by ABA can serve as a mentor as long as the plan is approved by the ABA. Is the professional practice year a full calendar year?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: Yes, it's 2000 hours, which is equivalent to one year.

AO/Beck: Who is it that gives ABA the ability or right to issue 'Board Certification?'

ABA/DeConde Johnson: Certification boards empower themselves. ABA adheres to high ethical standards that are delineated in its Code of Ethics and reflected in the standards to which its certificants are held.

AO/Beck: Does the audiologist applying for or maintaining their ABA Board Certification need to be a member of AAA?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: No, the idea is for Board Certification to be independent of any national membership-based organization. We would like the ABA to be totally independent in its governance as soon as it is monetarily self-sufficient. Hopefully, that will happen in the next few years.

AO/Beck: I think the reason many people haven't yet applied for the ABA Board Certification has to do with issues relating to 'who recognizes the Board Certification and what does it mean'? Suppose I wanted ABA 'certification' and I already have the ASHA CCC-A, does the ABA Board Certification legally and completely replace the ASHA CCC-A?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: The ABA has been issuing Board Certification for a year and a half now. We have been in touch with every state and many of them will indeed recognize ABA Board Certification because they specify in their laws 'ASHA or equivalent' language, or commensurate criteria, which opens the door for the ABA. Most individual states don't want to get involved detailing specific requirements; rather, they would like to refer to a set of criteria assuring a quality program. In this case, ABA requirements meet or exceed the current requirements for each state. However, some states do specify ASHA certification in their laws and those need to be addressed one-by-one via their rules and regulations. The ABA and the individual state statutes are very important references for determining the status of ABA Board Certification in each state. Audiologists should check with their state licensure board to determine the relationship between certification and licensure in their particular state.

AO/Beck: Does the ABA require continuing education to maintain Board certification status?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: Yes, we require 45 clock hours over a three-year period. Importantly, we are also requiring that the audiologist must have a certain number of hours in professional ethics and audiologic rehabilitation (including counseling) to fulfill their recertification requirements. Additionally, we grant recertification credit for a variety of learning experiences, including professional conferences, appropriate distance learning opportunities and authoring an article that is published in a refereed professional journal.

AO/Beck: Can you give us any idea as to how many people have completed the ABA Board Certification program at this time?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: I believe we have about 200 ABA Board Certified audiologists at this time.

AO/Beck: Why do you think the majority of audiologists haven't yet applied for ABA Board Certification?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: I think the amount of rhetoric between the national associations was not helpful. I think many people were waiting to see where the chips would fall before applying. Also, you must remember that the ABA Board Certification is voluntary - audiologists do not have to obtain this credential. Now that we're pretty much past the rhetoric and the introductory stage, I expect that the number of applications will increase quickly. 'Board Certification' is a consumer recognized term and it is helpful in marketing campaigns and yellow page ads. Above all, it helps assure the consumer that the practitioner has met predetermined standards, and conducts their practice in an ethical manner, and remains current in the field.

AO/Beck: What other areas (beyond Board Certification) will the ABA be delving into?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: We are currently developing two additional certification areas. One will address international audiologists who want to apply for Board Certification. We are also investigating issuing additional recognition for specific areas of expertise. For example, if your expertise is in pediatric audiology, you may soon be able to earn additional recognition from the ABA indicating such expertise.

AO/Beck: If an audiologist is interested in learning more about the ABA and how to apply, what is the best way to obtain information?

ABA/DeConde Johnson: Audiologists can call the toll-free number for the Academy (1-800-AAA-2336) and speak with Marilyn Weissman at extension 202 or they can e-mail her at Marilyn is the Director of Certification for the ABA and she'll certainly be able to help them get oriented. In addition, the upcoming issue of Audiology Today contains an article on ABA.

AO/Beck: Thanks for your time and your dedication to the ABA.

ABA/DeConde Johnson: You're welcome. Thanks for letting me address this topic in this venue, I appreciate the opportunity.

Signia Xperience - July 2024

cheryl deconde johnson

Cheryl DeConde Johnson, EdD

The ADEvantage (Audiology - Deaf Education vantage consulting services)

Cheryl DeConde Johnson is self-employed in her practice, The ADEvantage ( providing consultation services for audiology and deaf education programs. She is a former consultant with the Colorado Department of Education, and prior to that was an educational audiologist and program coordinator for the Greeley, Colorado deaf and hard of hearing program. She is a lecturer in AuD programs at the University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Northern Colorado, and Central Michigan University, as well as an adjunct faculty in deaf education at the University of Arizona.

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