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Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Fort Hays State University
600 Park Street
Albertson Hall 131
Phone: 785-628-5366
Email: infoslp@fhsu.edu
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Essential Functions for Speech-Language Pathologists

Essential functions refer to the basic duties of a profession, in this case speech-language pathology. For the field of speech-language pathology, there are basic skills that the job requires the person be able to do. Essential functions help identify the rights of a student (or employee) with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A graduate student at Fort Hays State University that cannot complete the basic requirements when provided reasonable accommodations and/or modifications is considered unqualified for employment as a speech-language pathologist and can justifiably not be admitted or dismissed from the speech-language pathology graduate program.

The field of speech-language pathology requires the acquisition of specific knowledge and skills as outlined by the accrediting body, the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (2007). It is the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Fort Hays State University’s responsibility to ensure that graduates of the master’s degree program be able to perform the essential duties outlined below with starred items (*) being present when a student begins the graduate program.

Graduate students must possess adequate skills to demonstrate the following criteria:

A. Communication

  • Communicate in both oral and written English proficiently taking into account the needs and preferences of others (i.e., classmates, instructors, clients, and families).
  •  Read and write proficiently to complete the requirements for documentation and assignments in the clinic and classroom.
  •  Communicate accurately and professionally with clients, families, colleagues, supervisors, and other professionals.

B. Motor

  • Participate in professional, classroom, laboratory and other activities for four-hour periods of time with one or two breaks.
  •  Move independently to, from and within the work and educational/clinic setting.
  • Provide for one’ s own personal hygiene.
  • Manipulate materials used in the assessment and treatment of individuals with speech, language, or hearing disorders as well as complete all documentation needed (e.g., SOAP notes, reports).
  •  Provide a safe environment for others in responding quickly to emergency situations including fire, choking, etc., and in application of universal precautions.  Make accurate judgments about speech and/or acoustic signals.

C. Intellectual/Cognitive

  • Understand, retain, integrate, evaluate and apply written and verbal information in order to meet the curricular and clinical demands of the program.
  • Comply with administrative, legal and regulatory policies in the classroom and clinic.
  • Integrate information from client files, evaluations, observations, and treatment to diagnose and develop intervention plans appropriate for clients with speech, language and hearing disorders in the clinic and academic classroom
  • Adapt evaluation and intervention activities in response to the client’s abilities and cultural needs both in the clinic and classroom.
  • Engage in self-analysis of ones own knowledge and skills and identify and access appropriate methods for improving areas of identified deficit.
D. Sensory/Observational
  • Visually and auditorily identify normal and disordered speech, language, and hearing.
  • Evaluate and identify the need for alternative modes of communication with clients, families, and other professionals.
  • Visually and auditorily evaluate diagnostic artifacts (e.g., swallow evaluations, language samples).


E. Behavioral/Social

  • Maintain emotional and mental health required for use of intellectual abilities, prompt completion of responsibilities, and development of appropriate relationship with clients, families, peers, faculty, supervisors, and other professionals.
  • Maintain composure and emotional stability in demanding situations.
  • Follow the ASHA Code of Ethics as well as department, university and federal policies.
  • Dress appropriately and professionally.
  • Understand and respect faculty and supervisory authority including complying with reasonable requests and adhering to clinical and classroom policies such as punctuality and attendance.


Fort Hays State University, in accordance with The Americans With Disabilities Act, provides assistance and resources for students with disabilities. The Disability Student Services Office (DSS) is located in the Kelly Center, Picken 111, 785-628-4401. This is the appropriate office for students, faculty or staff to contact to verify and notify the University of a student’s documented disability. The DSS office, after verification of a documented disability, will initiate a request for services. Students should contact the instructor within the first two weeks of class if they require special accommodations for the test taking, carrying out assignments, or any other need for assistance.

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