WASHINGTON, DC–The Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE) got a much-needed boost earlier this month when Starkey Hearing Technologies, in conjunction with Widex USA, Inc., announced that they would provide $160,000 to the commission over the next three years, 2014-2016.
ACAE is an independent non-profit organization that accredits university graduate programs in audiology. It was created by audiology organizations to provide an alternative to the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA), which is affiliated with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
ACAE said that the funds from the two hearing aid manufacturers would be used for multiple purposes. These include providing grants to academic programs wishing to apply for ACAE accreditation; upgrading the training of those conducting on-site evaluations; and continuing the development of the infrastructure for its web-based platform, the first to be used in accreditation.
RECOGNITION OF ACAE’S ROLE
In announcing their companies’ grants, Jerry Ruzicka, president of Starkey, America’s largest hearing aid manufacturer, and Rodney Schutt, president of the U.S. division of the Danish-based Widex AS, said that they welcomed the opportunity to support ACAE. They added that the $160,000 gift was made in “recognition of the important role that ACAE accreditation plays in raising the bar in audiology education.”
In response, the ACAE board of directors commended Starkey and Widex-USA “for their profound commitment to the highest quality in audiology education and to the profession.” The ACAE leaders added that they were grateful to the companies for their understanding of the importance to audiology of the investment in education through accreditation.
Until a few years ago, CAA held a monopoly on the accreditation of graduate audiology programs in the U.S. However, with the advent of the AuD degree, the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), which had championed the movement for the professional doctorate in audiology (while ASHA resisted it), decided that it was inappropriate for CAA to determine which academic programs could award the AuD and, in doing so, effectively set the standards for what audiology students must learn to enter the profession.
AAA and ADA developed ACAE with the goal of creating an innovative accreditation process that, they said, would streamline the process, increase accountability, and minimize duplication.
However, thus far only a handful of AuD programs have chosen to apply for ACAE accreditation, while the great majority continue to be accredited by CAA. ACAE hopes that the additional funding will help it advance its efforts to someday supplant CAA.