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Mission & History
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Mission Statement

The AB-SSD exists to safeguard and advance the care of individuals with feeding and swallowing disorders, across the lifespan, by professional certification of SLPs that demonstrate excellence through continuing education, integrated clinical practice, mentorship, research, teaching, and leadership.

To achieve these goals, this board will:

  • provide incentives for and access to professional acknowledgment of advanced knowledge and skills in swallowing and swallowing disorders, and
  • identify individuals with special and advanced expertise who may serve as mentors for other professionals in health care communities and training institutions.


The initiative to form a specialty recognition board was begun in discussions within ASHA’s Special Interest Division 13: Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders in 1995. In December 2001, the petition for the establishment of a Specialty Board on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders was presented to the CCSR by the Steering Committee of Division 13. CCSR approval included the recommendations of a 13 member Inaugural Specialty Board. The Steering Committee of Division 13 appointed two founding members to the Board fulfilling the roles as Chair and Vice-Chair. Those persons were Bonnie Martin-Harris and Maureen A. Lefton-Greif. Other Board members were chosen from nominations and submissions.

Other Inaugural members included: Joan Arvedson, Caryn Easterling (Board Treasurer), Susan Langmore, Jeri Logemann, Linda Mackay, Adrienne Perlman, Jo Puntil-Sheltman, JoAnne Robbins, Justine Joan Sheppard, Barbara Sonies (Board Secretary) and Marty Mash (Consumer Member).

The first meeting of the Inaugural Board was at ASHA headquarters on Feb 7-8, 2003. The initial 18 months of work of the Board focused upon establishing program components based upon the original submitted manual for the BRS Program. This included establishment of an application and application review process, establishment of a secure objective examination and exam process, development of the various program committees, formalizing contract with an administrative company to assist with administration of the program, initial establishment of a website and marketing options for fostering the program.

The initial stages of the BRS Program included application and acceptance of Charter Members. Charter member roles included an active role in the development of a bank of questions for the examination. The first charter member application submission and review occurred in Sept 2004.

Transition to Clinical Specialty Certification

The transition to the Clinical Specialty Certification program was approved in 2012.  The new program replaced the BRS-S program on January 1, 2014.  The new credentials are BCS-S.  The purpose of the new program is consistant with those articulated in the original resolution establishing the clinical specialization program. The program continues to provide a mechanism by which (a) the public can identify those practitioners with the specialized clinical education and experience and (b) practitioners can specify the nature of the clinical practice they provide.