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 Table of Contents  
ISHA SURVEY REPORT
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 34  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 31-35

Specialization in the field of speech and hearing: Is it required in India?


1 Department of Audiology, All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysuru, Karnataka, India
2 Indian Speech and Hearing Association, Mysuru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission15-Jul-2019
Date of Decision12-Nov-2019
Date of Acceptance29-Mar-2020
Date of Web Publication06-Jul-2020

Correspondence Address:
Amulya P Rao
ISHA Office, C/O All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Manasagangothri, Mysore - 570 006, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jisha.JISHA_16_19

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  Abstract 


Introduction: With the growth in the field of speech and hearing globally, the requirements in training programs have seen a transition in India. One of the changes is an increase in the number of institutions worldwide offering specialization in either audiology or speech-language pathology (SLP) at the master's level, instead of a dual program. However, in the year 2017, out of 19 speech and hearing institutes offering master's degrees in the field of speech and hearing, only two provided specialization (as per the website of the Rehabilitation Council of India, 2017). Hence, the present study aimed to investigate the requirement for specialization in the field of speech and hearing. Methods: Using a twenty-item checklist, an e-survey was conducted to obtain the views of the Indian Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ISHA) life members regarding specialization at the master's level. Results: The majority of the participants indicated that specialization at the master's level is more beneficial than having a dual degree in speech and hearing. Furthermore, Pearson's Chi-square test indicated a significant association between their views on specialization and their educational qualification as well as their specific work area. Conclusion: The results indicated that ISHA life members were of the view that specialization in audiology and in SLP should be conducted in India at the master's level. This requirement was felt irrespective of whether they had a specialized or a dual degree as well as irrespective of their area of work.

Keywords: Dual degree, postgraduation, specialization, speech and hearing


How to cite this article:
Yathiraj A, Rao AP, Apeksha K. Specialization in the field of speech and hearing: Is it required in India?. J Indian Speech Language Hearing Assoc 2020;34:31-5

How to cite this URL:
Yathiraj A, Rao AP, Apeksha K. Specialization in the field of speech and hearing: Is it required in India?. J Indian Speech Language Hearing Assoc [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 27];34:31-5. Available from: https://www.jisha.org/text.asp?2020/34/1/31/288971




  Introduction Top


The field of speech and hearing is a fast-growing profession in India and worldwide. As per the reports of the American Speech and Hearing Association, the job growth for audiologists and speech-language pathologists is expected to increase by 29% and 21%, respectively, from 2014 to 2024.[1] While this estimation in growth is provided for the USA, it can be speculated that a similar if not higher number of speech and hearing professionals would be required in India. This can be inferred from the National Program for the Prevention and Control of Deafness that was initiated in India from 2006, which requires a large number of speech and hearing personnel/professionals. This program was proposed with a long-term objective of reducing the burden of hearing loss and deafness in India. One of the ways the program proposed to do so was by developing institutional capacity for ear care services, which included training audiologists.[2]

The speech and hearing courses provided at undergraduation and graduation level vary across countries and institutions within a country. An Internet search revealed that more than 40 universities across various countries offer specialization in the field of speech and hearing at the undergraduate level.[3] Approximately 122 institutions offer specialization in audiology and around 180 universities offer specialization in speech-language therapy/pathology at the master's level across various countries.[4] Only a few universities across the world offer dual degree at the postgraduation level. These universities include, University Kebangsaan Malaysia,[5] and University of British Columbia.[6] However, in India, as on December 2017, specialization in audiology and speech-language pathology (SLP) at the master's level was offered by only two institutions, whereas dual degrees were offered by 17 institutions.[7]

Speech and hearing professionals, with or without specialization at the master's level, are known to work in varied setups such as stand-alone speech and hearing institutes, hospitals, clinics, schools, and industries. To work in these setups, speech and hearing professionals are required to have specific knowledge to cater to the needs of those with communication disorders. Studies in the literature support the need for speech and hearing professionals having specialization to provide better services to those with specific communication disorders such as autism spectrum disorders, dysphagia, and multilingual and multicultural patients.[8],[9],[10] Although these studies stress on the importance of specialization, they do not specify at what level of education this is required.

Unlike the universities in other parts of the world, in India most of the universities offer dual degree in the field of speech and hearing. The dual degrees were setup in India, probably with the rational that at that in 1960, the country did not have enough trained individuals in the field to justify conducting programs in the specialized areas of speech and hearing. However, after over 50 years of the field existing in the country, resulting in the number of trained personnel increased substantially, the above requirement may no longer hold good. It needs to be ascertained as to whether speech and hearing professionals who qualify from India continue to advocate a dual degree in the field or not. Such information would guide the regulatory bodies regarding the kind of programs that should be offered by various institutes in the country. This would help in providing the required educational qualifications which, in turn, would improve the quality of life of those with communication problems in the country. Thus, the present study aimed to investigate the requirement for specialization in the field of speech and hearing and the association between the need for specialization and the educational qualification of the professionals as well as the services provided.


  Methods Top


Information on the opinion of speech and hearing professionals regarding the need for specialization at the master's level in the field was obtained using an e-survey. Prior the commencement of the study, the clearance of the executive council members of ISHA, which included the chairman of the Committee of Educational Standards and Ethics was obtained. The study was carried out in two stages. The first stage involved the development of a checklist, and in the second stage, responses were obtained from the participants.

Participants

Speech and hearing professionals who were registered life members of ISHA, having at least a bachelors degree from colleges/institutes certified by the Rehabilitation Council of India served as the participants. A total of 2950 professionals were contacted through their registered e-mails. The information was sent only to those who had updated their e-mail addresses in the database of the ISHA website. Responses were received from 306 individuals after two reminders. The demographic information of the participants who responded is provided in [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic details of the participants

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Material

A twenty-item checklist was developed that aimed to obtain information from the participants regarding their educational background, area of work, and their opinions on having specialization at the master's level. Content validation of the checklist was done by five speech and hearing professionals. The items in the checklist were not modified if at least four out of five of the judges indicated the appropriateness of the same. None of the judges recommended the removal or addition on any of the items. However, they recommended that five of the items be revised to improve their clarity. The final checklist had seven categories that included demographic details, educational qualification, work area (audiology/SLP/both), subarea of work (clinical/research/both), work setup (government/nongovernment categories), and sub setup of work (institutional such as government institutions, private institutions, and institutions with or without hospital setup/noninstitutional setups such as hospitals without institutional setup, nongovernmental organizations, and private clinics).

The final checklist [Appendix I] was converted into a Google form. Preceding the checklist, instructions were provided regarding the purpose, necessity to answer all the items, and the approximate time taken to answer the checklist. The checklist was designed to obtain responses using a drop-down menu, multiple choice, or open-ended short answers.

Procedure

The e-survey was conducted in the second stage of the study. The link to the Google form was sent to the registered e-mail addresses of the 2950 Indian Speech and Hearing Association life members. Along with the link, the e-mail contained a letter requesting the members to answer the checklist, with a brief purpose of the survey, how to access the checklist, and the approximate time to answer it. Answering all items in the checklist was made mandatory.

Out of the 2950 e-mails that were sent, 70 e-mails reverted back due to invalid e-mail addresses, and hence, the mail was delivered to only 2880 professionals. After two e-mail reminders, responses were received from 306 members. These responses were received over a span of 1 month.

Analyses

The responses obtained from the participants were tabulated and subjected to the statistical analyses using the Statistical Product and Service Solutions (SPSS) Version 17.0, SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. The frequency of the responses and Pearson Chi-square analyses was carried out.


  Results Top


The frequency of responses was calculated and tabulated to determine the views of the participants on specialization at the master's level in the field of speech and hearing [Table 2]. The actual (the frequency with which responses fall into a category) and expected (the frequency expected in a category if the data represented the population) distribution of their recommendations for specialization in the field of speech and hearing were analyzed in association with the independent variables (educational qualification and work-related parameters) using the Pearson Chi-square test of independence.
Table 2: Actual and expected frequency (as per the Pearson Chi-square test) of occurrence of recommendation for specialization in the field of speech and hearing at the masterfs level, in relation to educational qualification and work

Click here to view


Frequency of response

Overall, it was observed that the majority of ISHA life members (n = 238) felt the need for specialization in the field. Only a few (n = 68) recommended a dual course (speech and hearing) at the master's level [Table 2].

Association of view on specialization with educational qualification and work

To confirm whether an association between the choice of education at the master's degree (specialization and dual degree) and the independent variables existed, Pearson's Chi-Square test of independence was used. From [Table 2], it can be noted that the actual and expected distribution of the recommendations for specialization were similar for most of the parameters that were studied. The actual values were marginally lower than the expected values for a few parameters and were higher than the expected values for other parameters. Further, the Chi-square test was <1 for the years of work experience (χ2 [2, n = 306] = 0.71; P = 0.70), subwork area (χ2 [2, n = 306] =0.88; P = 0.66), and work setups (χ2 [2, n = 306] = 0.23; P = 0.63 and (χ2 [2, n = 306] = 53; P = 0.47). This indicated that there was no association between these parameters with the participants' views on specialization. On the other hand, a significant association was found between the views on specialization and their education qualification (χ2 [2, n = 306] = 9.91; P = 0.01) and work area (χ2 [2, n = 306] = 10.82; P = 0.004).


  Discussion Top


The results of the survey regarding the need for specialization are discussed with reference to the educational qualification of the participants, their years of experience, work area, subarea of work, work setup, and subsetup of work. These are provided based on the responses obtained from the 306 life members of ISHA who responded to the survey.

The results revealed that the majority of the participants recommended that at the master's level, specialization is required. This was observed regardless of their educational qualification, years of experience, work area, and work setup [Table 2]. It was observed that most of the participants who had specialized either in audiology or SLP (91%) did not recommend dual degrees. This indicates that they considered their choice of course at the master's degree to be appropriate. In contrast, several of those who had a dual degree (74%) in speech and hearing recommended specialization at the master's level. This could have resulted in the significant association found between the participants' views on specialization and their educational qualification as well as their work area. These participants probably felt the need for specialization as their clinical practice demanded indepth knowledge that they lacked when studying a dual degree. Further, a few participants opined that specialization done by them provided knowledge to serve individuals with communication disorders better than those who had a dual degree. This is in consensus with the literature where the need for indepth knowledge in specific areas such as dysphagia, multicultural and multilingual patients, and autism-spectrum disorders is reported.[8],[9],[10] It is a fact that dual programs do not provide the required indepth knowledge that is given in specialization programs.

The participants, who supported the need for a dual degree at the master's level, reasoned that their career opportunities were more compared to those with specialization. In addition, they believed that they had the knowledge to attend to a variety of speech and hearing disorders. However, these individuals probably did not consider the need for indepth knowledge to deal with specific clientele to provide better services.

The institutions providing specialized courses in India are very few. The results of the present study strongly indicate the need to have specialized courses at the master's level in more speech and hearing training institutions. To provide better services, specialization and superspecialization are common in many education fields, especially in the medical and paramedical disciplines. Including specialized courses at the master's level in various speech and hearing institutes would help in building workforce to provide better services to individuals with communication disorders.


  Conclusion Top


From the study, it can be noted that the vast majority of the participants were of the view that having specialization at the master's level (M. Sc [Aud]/M. Sc [SLP]) was beneficial for speech and hearing profession. This need for specialization was expressed despite most of the participants having a dual degree. This indicates that while working, the speech and hearing professionals choose a specialized area to work, which requires indepth knowledge. The overview to different communication disabilities learned by students while studying a dual degree in the field of speech and hearing is not adequate to provide the most suitable line of treatment. These highlight the requirement for specialization in the field of speech and hearing in India to provide better services to individuals with communication disorders.

Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge Dr. Madhuri Gore, Dr. Krishna Y., and Dr. Sandeep M. for their valuable suggestions in making the e-survey checklist and ISHA life members for participating in the e-survey.

Financial support and sponsorship

Funded by the Indian Speech-Language and Hearing Association.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


  Appendix I Top



  E-Survey Checklist Top


This questionnaire has been designed with an aim to get information about the scope of practice for the audiologists and speech-language pathologists in India. This questionnaire collects the information regarding your educational qualification, work experience, and your involvement in the field


  Dmographic Details Top


  1. ISHA membership number
  2. Gender: male/female



  Educational Qualification Details Top


  1. Received B.ASLP Degree in the year _____
  2. Received B.ASLP Degree from the Institute _____
  3. Received Masterfs Degree in the year _____
  4. Received Masterfs Degree from the Institute _____
  5. Received Ph.D. Degree in the year _____
  6. Received Ph.D. Degree in the field of _____
  7. Received Ph.D. Degree from the Institute and University _____



  Work Experience Top


1. Present designation _______

2. Number of months and years since you joined your present position _____

3. Working in the field of

  1. Audiology
  2. Speech-language pathology
  3. Both
  4. None


4. Work satisfaction in the present work

  1. Extremely satisfied
  2. Somewhat satisfied
  3. Neutral
  4. Somewhat dissatisfied
  5. Extremely dissatisfied


5. Working in select as many options as required

  1. Central government/teaching institute
  2. State government/teaching institute
  3. Hospital setup
  4. Private clinic
  5. School
  6. Industrial setup
  7. Nongovernmental organization
  8. Others _____


6. Involved in (select as many options as required)

  1. Research
  2. Teaching
  3. Administration
  4. Public education
  5. Clinical services
  6. Others _____


7. Number of year of research experience

  1. 0–5 years
  2. 5–10 years
  3. 10–15 years
  4. 15–20 years
  5. More than 20 years


8. Number of years of teaching experience

  1. 0–5 years
  2. 5–10 years
  3. 10–15 years
  4. 15–20 years
  5. More than 20 years


9. Number of years of clinical experience

  1. 0–5 years
  2. 5–10 years
  3. 10–15 years
  4. 15–20 years
  5. More than 20 years



  Specialization at Master's Level Top


1. Is specialization M.Sc (Aud)/M.Sc (SLP) beneficial for speech and hearing professionals?

  1. Yes
  2. No


2. If not, state the reason in support for dual degree _____



 
  References Top

1.
American Speech-Language-Hearing. Market Trends; 2016. Available from: http://www.asha.org/Careers/Market-Trends/. [Last accessed on 2020 May 06].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Garg S, Chadha S, Malhotra S, Agarwal AK. Deafness: Burden, prevention and control in India. Natl Med J India 2009;22:79-81.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
IDP International Education Specialists. Undergraduate Speech Pathology Courses Board. 2019. Available from: https://www.idp.com/india/search/speech-pathology/undergraduate/. [Last retrieved on 2019 Jun 04].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
IDP connect. Postgraduate Audiology. 2019. Available from: https://www.hotcoursesabroad.com/india/training-degrees/international/postgraduate/audiology-courses/slevel/3/cgory/pb.461-4/sin/ct/programs.html. [Last retrieved on 2019 Jun 04].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Center for Academic Management. Post-Graduate Programmes: University of Kebangsaan Malaysia. 2018. Available from: http://www.ukm.my/portal/wp-content/postgraduate/brochure/2018_Postgraduate_3110.pdf. [Last retrieved on 2019 Mar 18].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Master of Science in Audiology and Speech Sciences (MSc). 2019. Available from: https://www.grad.ubc.ca/prospective-students/graduate-degree-programs/master-of-science-audiology-speech-sciences. [Last retrieved on 2019 Mar 18].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Rehabilitation Council of India. List of approved institutions up to 22nd April – 2020. 2020. Available from: http://www.rehabcouncil.nic.in/writereaddata/approved_inst.pdf. [Last retrieved on 2019 Mar 19].  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Hammer C, Detwiler J, Detwiler J, Blood G, Dean Qualls C. Speech – Language pathologists' training and confidence in serving Spanish– English Bilingual children. J Commun Dis 2004;37:91-108.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Schwartz H, Drager KD. Training and knowledge in autism among speech-language pathologists: A survey. Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch 2008;39:66-77.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Power-deFur L. Serving students with dysphagia in the schools? Educational preparation is essential! Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch 2000;31:76-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
    



 
 
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  In this article
Abstract
Introduction
Methods
Results
Discussion
Conclusion
Appendix I
E-Survey Checklist
Dmographic Details
Educational Qual...
Work Experience
Specialization a...
References
Article Tables

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