Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services Recommends Telepractice as Option to Address SLP Shortage

Districts encouraged to consider telepractice services for unmet student needs for speech and language services

SAN FRANCISCO, January 28, 2015 – The Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services (WCASS) has identified online speech therapy, also known as telepractice or telespeech, as an appropriate service delivery option for schools to address the statewide shortage of licensed speech-language pathologists (SLPs). In their recently released guidelines, “WCASS Special Projects Committee Report: Guidance to School Districts Facing Shortage of Speech & Language Pathologists,” WCASS outlines the role that qualified online speech therapy service providers, such as PresenceLearning, can have in helping districts deliver the necessary services to students with special needs.

The report states: “Local Education Agencies (LEAs) are required to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) to all students enrolled in special education in the district. As part of FAPE, the IEP team may consider a number of service delivery options to meet each student’s needs. If the IEP team determines the use of Telespeech provides FAPE to the student, it may be used as a method of service delivery.”

“We are dedicated to both improving services to students with special needs and supporting our educators and professionals in the process,” said Gary Myrah, executive director of WCASS. “To help fill the shortage of SLPs throughout the state, and balance workloads for our current in-person SLPs, we have found online therapy to be a viable and effective solution – one which we encourage our schools and districts to explore. We also hope that other states find these guidelines useful in establishing their own.”

Since 2009, PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy services have provided schools with telepractice services as a practical, affordable option for service delivery. PresenceLearning offers web-based access to a nationwide network of live, highly qualified, fully licensed speech-language pathologists who are available whenever and wherever they are needed. PresenceLearning also offers online assessments as well as occupational therapy (OT) and behavior and mental health related services. By partnering with PresenceLearning, school districts can fill staffing gaps related to acute and chronic clinician shortages, reduce high caseloads for on-site personnel, reduce their backlog of assessments, improve student outcomes and become more efficient. PresenceLearning also offers access to technical specialists, as well as culturally and linguistically diverse speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists.

PresenceLearning has delivered over half a million live online therapy sessions to students in public school districts, charter schools and virtual schools of all sizes nationwide.

More than a dozen schools, districts and cooperative educational service agencies (CESAs) across Wisconsin are already relying on PresenceLearning to deliver online speech therapy, including Sparta Area School District, Tomah Area School District, Lake Mills Area School District, Rural Virtual Academy, Chequamegon School District, CESA 3, CESA 4, CESA 5, and CESA 9.

About PresenceLearning
PresenceLearning (www.presencelearning.com) is the leading telehealth network of providers of clinical services and assessments to educational organizations. The PresenceLearning care network has provided over one million sessions of live, online speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral interventions and mental health services, diagnostic services and assessments, and early childhood services for children with special needs.