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Speech or Language Impairment (SLI)

Speech or Language Impairment (SLI) Description:

In order for a student to be eligible for a Speech or Language Impairment, under the classification headings of articulation, fluency, voice, functional communication or delayed language development, must be evidence of dysfunction in one or more of the following criteria:

  • Receptive and expressive language (oral and written) difficulties including syntax (word order, word form, developmental level)
  • Semantics (vocabulary, concepts and word finding)
  • Pragmatics (purposes and uses of language)
  • Auditory processing, including sensation (acuity), perception (discrimination, sequencing, analysis and synthesis) association, auditory attention
  • Deficiency of structure and function of oral peripheral mechanism
  • Articulation including substitutions, omissions, distortions or additions of sound
  • Voice, including deviation of respiration, phonation (pitch, intensity, quality), resonance
  • Fluency, including hesitant speech, stuttering, cluttering and related disorders
  • Problems in auditory perception such as discrimination and memory.

SLI is most often addressed in schools by Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) and Speech-Language Pathology Assistants (SLPAs).

Colorado Speech or Language Impairment Guidelines for Assessment and Eligibility

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Colorado Communication Rating Scales

The Communication Rating Scales are to be used with students 3-21 years of age.

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    Get Connected

    Speech-Language Pathology Listserv

    The Colorado Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) listserv shares resources, professional development and training opportunities and provides information including current trends, research, and ongoing topics of interest related to SLPs. The purpose of this network is to provide information and news regarding the profession and research; announce professional development and training opportunities; and post school-based job openings. Our focus is to better the lives of students with Speech-Language Impairments and benefit the families, communities, and professionals who support them. This service is chat-free and does not include advertisements from vendors or contract-based companies. To subscribe to the SLP Listserv, please follow the directions below.

    Join the SLP Listserv

    To subscribe to the CO-SLP listserv:

    To unsubscribe from the CO-SLP listserv:

    • Open a new email.
    • In the “To” field, type the email
    • In the body of the message write, “unsubscribe SLP” and send the message.
    • You will automatically be unsubscribed.

    Listserv Disclaimer:

    A variety of learning opportunities, information, and resources are provided on this listserv. These materials do not represent an exhaustive list, nor are they required or endorsed by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). The identification or description is for the purpose of providing information and resources and does not constitute CDE's endorsement. Every effort has been made to identify the citation for the resource; please maintain the citation and/or authorship when adapting or modifying these materials.

    Associations & Committees

    ASHA State Education Advocacy Leader (SEAL)

    State Education Advocacy Leaders (SEALs) are appointed to advocate on education issues by CSHA our ASHA recognized state speech-language hearing association. The SEAL’s purpose is “to enhance and perpetuate the advocacy, leadership, and clinical management skills of school-based ASHA members at the state and local levels to influence administrative and public policy decisions that affect the delivery of speech-language pathology and audiology services in school settings.” Find more information about SEALs and who represents Colorado.

    The Colorado Speech-Language Hearing Association (CSHA)

    CSHA is a professional association consisting of speech-language pathologists and audiologists that work in a variety of settings throughout Colorado. The key goals of CSHA are the advancement of education, advocacy, and member communication amongst SLPs and Audiologists. Membership in CSHA supports state level advocacy for our professions, CE events hosted in Colorado, communication to members on important issues, as well as volunteer and networking opportunities. CSHA's vision is "Making Colorado a place where all voices are heard." CSHA welcomes future professionals and speech-language pathology assistants. We hope you'll consider becoming a member. For more information go to the CSHA website.

    Speech-Language Advisory Committee (SLAC)

    SLAC Mission Statement: The Committee believes that speech-language pathologists and special educators in Colorado deserve innovative professional development opportunities that address issues, challenges, and evidence-base practices relevant to infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents with disabilities. The Committee provides advice on policies and procedures for best practices and in the alignment and standardization of services across the state. Committee members consist of regional representatives, hospital representatives, school administrators, university liaisons and various other stakeholder groups. Regional Representatives act as liaisons for their regional public school SLP constituents. They are nominated by their Special Education Director and chosen through an application process to serve in this capacity. Representatives from the Colorado Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA), the university programs, and community liaisons were added to the Committee to ensure collaboration between significant stakeholders across the state.

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    Employment and Recruitment

     *Please note this is not a comprehensive list and may not include all Pathologist and Pathology Assistant vacancies

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    Career Tracks

    School-based SLPs are Master’s degree educated experts in the areas of speech, language and communication. SLPAs have Bachelor’s degrees and have completed a certification program and clinical practicum hours. 

    There are a variety of pathways to becoming a school-based SLP in Colorado. Interested parties with a BA or BS in any field can complete an SLP Prerequisites (SLPP) program to get prepared for an SLP graduate program, or complete an SLPA certification program. If you have a Bachelor’s degree in communication disorders or a related field, you may be eligible to enroll directly into a Master’s degree program. See the links below for more information on these options. 

    Speech-Language Pathology Assistant

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    Professional Learning

    Professional Learning Quick Links

    Online Courses

    All courses are on-demand and self-paced. To maximize your learning experience you are encourages to participate on a weekly basis. 

    Strategies to Write Informational Text

    Strategies to Write Informational Text for Secondary Students is an 8-week self-paced course with 11 modules that provide resources to support the writing process. It follows the book by Jill Jackson, How to Teach Students to Write Informational Text. 15 CDE Contact Hours available.

    Learn more about this opportunity on the Strategies to Write Informational Text CDE Professional Development Page.


    SLPA Supervision in Colorado Schools

    This course is designed for any speech-language pathologist who is new to supervising/mentoring an SLPA in Colorado or who needs a review. It includes collaborative models of supervision, roles and responsibilities of supervisors and the roles and responsibilities of SLPAs according to Colorado standards. The course meets the ASHA's two hour supervision requirement and ten CDE contact hours are available.

    Learn more about this opportunity on the SLPA Supervision in Schools CDE Professional Development Page.


    Social Communication and Engagement Triad (Online Course)

    The SCET Triad is a 6-week, self-paced online course with 6 modules to learn about the interconnectedness between communication and engagement. This course is intended for educators who support students with an autism spectrum disorder or other complex communication disorders. 7.5 CDE Contact Hours available.

    Learn more about this opportunity on the SCET Triad Professional Development Page.

    Auditory and Language Processing Disorders (Online Course)

    The Auditory and Language Processing Disorders is a 10-week, self-paced online course with 5 modules. Participants will earn 7 professional development hours for completion of the course. This mini course is about the special educator’s role with understanding auditory and language processing disorders through assessment and intervention.

    Learn more about this opportunity on the Auditory and Language Processing Disorders Page.

    Journal Club Online Courses

    The Journal Club is an online course that uses articles about language and literacy to create the opportunity to read professional articles related to school-based issues, participate in online discussions to support the implementation of strategies, and complete a knowledge check assessment. 

     Multidimensional View of Reading Comprehension (Journal Club - Online Course)

    These articles address the multidimensional aspect of reading, including the role of the SLP in assessment and intervention of reading comprehension. 7 CDE contact hours.

    Analyzing Language Samples in Adolescents to Support Student Growth  (Journal Club - Online Course)

    This journal club looks at articles on how early speech or language disorders may affect language and literacy outcomes during adolescence. It explores how spoken and written language samples can be useful in assessment and intervention. 4 CDE contact hours.

    The Impact of Speech-Language on Literacy  (Journal Club - Online Course)

    This journal club focuses on increasing your understanding of the impact language development has on reading and writing skills as literacy develops over time. 5 CDE contact hours.

    What SLPs Need to Know About Dyslexia  (Journal Club - Online Course)

    This journal club focuses on the role speech-language pathologists play in assessing and providing interventions for students identified with or suspected of having dyslexia. 8.5 CDE contact hours.


    Speech-Language Interventions for Multilingual Learners

    This Speech Language Interventions for Multilingual Learners course was created by Dr. Sandy Frey and designed to provide you with a general overview of best practices for approaching family engagement, and intervention for multilingual students with speech-language disorders.  The course consists of 4 videos and 1 quiz.  Upon successful completion of the course, you will be eligible to receive a certificate of completion from the CDE which will grant you 1 hour of recertification credit.

    Speech Sound Disorder and Dyslexia Part 1 (2-Hour Webinar)

    In this two-hour webinar, Dr. Kelly Farquharson: breaks down the Simple View of Reading and the Science of Reading; explains how speech sound disorders impact reading; and discusses the frequency with which students with Speech Sound Disorders also struggle with decoding.

    Speech Sound Disorder and Dyslexia Part 2 (Half-Day Workshop)

    In this half-day workshop, Dr. Kelly Farquharson of Florida State University teaches a master class on the appropriate intervention and treatment of speech sound disorders. In this three and a half hours, you will learn about various speech sound disorders, treatment techniques, and strategies for choosing the best speech sounds to target first.

    SLP Role in Concussion Management in School

    In this one hour webinar, you will learn about the SLP’s role in working with a multidisciplinary concussion management team. SLP’s play a key role in supporting students with concussions as they return to school including consultation, professional development and support for their colleagues, and direct intervention for students who qualify for specially designed instruction.

    Advancing Equity within Special Education Identification Webinar Series: Part 4 - Strategies and Considerations for Speech-Language Impairment

    Viewers will explore strategies for identifying students with speech-language impairments versus language differences due to multilingualism. Learn about dynamic assessment methods and cultural considerations for eligibility determination.

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    For more information about services for students who have speech or language impairments in Colorado, please contact:

    Shani O'Brien, Speech-Language Specialist
    Email Shani O'Brien

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