50th Anniversary

2014 was Speech-Language & Audiology Canada's 50th Birthday!


In 1964, The Beatles launched their first album in North America, Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison and the Quebec National Assembly passed Bill 16, giving married women the same legal rights as their husbands. 

In November of that same year, a small group of Canadian speech-language pathologists and audiologists founded the Canadian Speech and Hearing Association (CSHA) — the first national association of its kind in our country.

Although much has changed since 1964 — including our name — the core purpose of our association has stayed the same. Speech-Language and Audiology Canada continues to uphold the ethics of the professions, promote the highest clinical standards, support our members and champion communication health.

Our 50th anniversary gave us the chance to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished and plan for what is yet to come. It was also a time to celebrate the growth of the professions and recognize our strength as a unified national association. Above all, it was a time to acknowledge the hundreds of member volunteers — from all provinces and territories — who have worked together to bring SAC this far.


Our celebration

Throughout 2014, we held many activities to celebrate our association's 50th anniversary, including a retrospective series in Communiqué, an advocacy day on Parliament Hill and special events at our 2014 conference. Many of these activities were documented via the news feed on our website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Birthday Facts

For 50 weeks in 2014, we posted an interesting fact about SAC to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Jump to final fact.

Fact #1: What a Deal! In 1964, SAC’s first membership fee was only $1.00.

Fact #2: Our First Certified Member. Andrée Durieux Smith, AUD(C), PhD, became the first-ever SAC certified member in 1987.

Fact #3: What's in a Name? When our association was founded in 1964, it was called the Canadian Speech and Hearing Association (CSHA). We did not adopt the following name, the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, until 1985. In 2014, we became Speech-Language and Audiology Canada.

Fact #4: Our First Journal. SAC published the first issue of its original scholarly journal, Human Communication, in 1973.

Fact #5: Entering the Digital Age. SAC began using email for the first time in 1990, through the University of British Columbia’s mainframe.

Fact  #6: A Commitment to Lifelong Learning. In 1995, SAC introduced mandatory continuing education equivalents (CEEs) as a requirement for maintaining clinical certification.

Fact #7: From Toronto to Ottawa. Speech-Language and Audiology Canada’s first head office was set up in Toronto, Ontario in 1984. We moved to our nation’s capital in 1995.

Fact #8: It All Started South of the Border. The first meeting of Speech-Language and Audiology Canada was held in the USA. Our founding members met in 1964 at a conference of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in San Francisco, California.

Fact #9: Thank You Isabel! Our first president was Isabel French Richard (1906-1991), whose thesis A Handbook for Speech and Hearing Therapists in the Winnipeg Public Schools became the first documented, contemporary description of clinical practice in Canada.

Fact #10: And the Winner Is... Speech-Language and Audiology Canada presented its first award, the Distinguished Service Award, to Robert Coulling in 1976.

Fact #11: Our First Editor. The first editor of our inaugural scholarly journal, Human Communication, was Russell Malone.

Fact #12: 31 Years of S-LP. Speech-Language and Audiology Canada approved the term “Speech-Language Pathologist” in 1983.

Fact #13: Federal Recognition. In 1977, the Canadian federal government designated Speech-Language and Audiology Canada the contact agency for all information related to speech and hearing.

Fact #14: Making It Official. Speech-Language and Audiology Canada approved its first constitution in 1966.

Fact #15: 1000 Members. In 1984, 20 years after the founding of SAC, the association reached 1000 members.

Fact #16: Moving On Up. In 1967, the same year as the 100th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, Speech-Language and Audiology Canada held its first annual meeting in Canada.  

Fact #17: Making Connections. In 1998, Speech-Language and Audiology Canada signed its first formal joint membership agreements with six provincial/territorial speech and hearing associations: the Alberta College of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (ACSLPA), Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (NLASLPA), Prince Edward Island Speech and Hearing Association (PEISHA), Saskatchewan Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (SASLPA), Speech and Hearing Association of Nova Scotia (SHANS) and Yukon Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Association (YSLPAA).

Fact #18: Hello Simon! Speech-Language and Audiology Canada introduced its Speech and Hearing Month mascot, Simon the Owl, in 2013. SAC decided on Simon because he has a prominent mouth and ears; he has sharp hearing; his big eyes are good for eye contact during conversation; his name is bilingual; and screech owls are native to Canada.

Fact #19: A Conference on the Coast. 300 members attended the first Speech-Language and Audiology Canada conference, held in Halifax in 1976.

Fact #20: A Position on Dysphagia. Speech-Language and Audiology Canada published its first position paper on dysphagia in 1995. 

Fact #21: Strength in Numbers. In Speech-Language and Audiology Canada’s inaugural year, we had 165 members. Today, that number represents less than 3% of our full membership base.

Fact #22: Humble Beginnings. SAC’s newsletter has seen many changes throughout the years. Launched in 1965 under the simple name Newsletter, the publication went through several name and format changes until becoming the members-only blog Communiqué that we know today.

Fact #23: You’re Hired! In 1975, SAC hired its first staff member: a part-time executive assistant, who worked out of a Toronto management firm that was also serving as the head SAC office at the time. Today, in addition to our many volunteers, it takes 13 staff members (12 of whom are full-time) and numerous freelancers and contractors to keep the SAC ship running!

Fact #24: Making Our Mark. Speech-Language and Audiology Canada published our first history book, Celebrating 35 Years of Growth and Achievement, in 1999.

Fact #25: Learning Abroad. In the early days of our association, the majority of SAC members received their professional degrees in schools outside of Canada. In fact, only three out of our first 17 presidents were educated at Canadian universities.

Fact #26: A Letter From the Hill. In the Fall 1976 issue of the CSHA Newsletter (an early publication that would eventually become SAC’s Communiqué), SAC informed its members of a new government commitment to health care via a letter we received from Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

Fact #27: A New Leader. In the fall of 1987, the SAC Executive Committee decided to hire the association’s first Executive Director: Richard King

Fact #28: Mission, Possible. SAC formalized its mission statement in 1990.

Fact #29: Communication Health Assistants Come On Board. SAC first welcomed communication health assistants to the association in 2006.

Fact #30: Talking About Hearing. On February 16, 1980, SAC president Frederick R. Greenberg and president-elect Margaret Roberts attended the first-ever meeting of the presidents of organizations serving the hearing impaired in Canada. 

Fact #31: Three’s Company. The first executive committee of SAC had only three members: President Isabel Richard, Vice-President David Kendal and Secretary Adam Sortini. 

Fact #32: Wearing Many Hats. Many of SAC’s charter and founding members were also integral to the early regional speech and hearing associations throughout Canada. For example, Suzette Marxheimer was a founding member of the Speech and Hearing Association of Alberta; Isabel Richard helped get the Manitoba Speech and Hearing Association off the ground; Adam Sortini was the founding president of the Atlantic Speech and Hearing Association; and Anthony and Elizabeth Bowie both helped to found the Ontario Speech and Hearing Association.

Fact #33: Carving a Place for Students. In 1995, SAC created a National Student Advisor position on the Board of Directors. In 2014, this position was renamed “Student Director” and the SD has an increased presence and voting rights on the Board. 

Fact #34: Certified Reciprocity. Past president Catriona Steele was the first SAC member to earn the CCC-SLP through SAC’s mutual recognition agreement with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Fact #35: Understanding Our Demographics. SAC conducted its first comprehensive demographic study in 1989, 20 years after the first demographic study of speech and hearing services in Canada.

Fact #36: Our New Website. SAC launched the current organization website in fall 2013. The new website consolidated our former professional and public websites into one universal site, introduced audience-specific hubs and regular news postings and set the stage for our brand launch in early 2014.

Fact #37: Our First Bylaws. SAC adopted its first bylaws in 1966. They became effective in 1967 and defined the eligibility requirements for membership in our association: “[Membership] shall be restricted to any person who holds a master's degree, or doctor's degree or post graduate diploma in speech pathology, audiology or speech and hearing science or in such allied professional disciplines as may be recognized and approved by the executive council…" Occasionally, the Executive Council made exceptions and approved applications from those who did not meet these requirements.

Fact #38: Expanding Professional Development. In the summer of 2013, SAC announced a new professional development program, which is focused on more in-person workshops, more online learning opportunities and new webinars. 

Fact #39: Protecting Little Ears. From 2006-2008, SAC ran a campaign to educate the public and policy-makers about the dangers of high decibel levels in children’s toys. 

Fact #40: Awe and Joy. Earlier this year, SAC launched the “Awe and Joy” campaign, our biggest-ever online and transit advertising campaign that celebrated the important work communication health professionals do every day.

Fact #41: Student, Meet Mentor. SAC offers a mentorship program to help candidates prepare for the Clinical Certification Exam.

Fact #42: The Value of Hearing Aids. In 2013, SAC won a national award for our response to a CBC Marketplace episode on hearing aids. We developed an infographic to help audiologists field questions about why hearing aids are worth the investment.

Fact #43: Addressing the Gap. SAC began an initiative in 2010 to better understand and improve communication health service delivery for First Nations, Métis and Inuit children.

Fact #44: Speaking to Our Students. At the beginning of the 2012-2013 academic year, SAC published the first issue of Student Speak, a newsletter created specifically for our student associates.

Fact #45: Happy Birthday to Us! 50 years ago this month [November], a small group of speech-language pathologists and audiologists met in the United States to discuss the need for a Canadian association to support, promote and elevate the professions…and by the end of that meeting, SAC was born. Break out the cake and candles!

Fact #46: Interprofessional Collaboration. In the mid-2000s, SAC ran a campaign specifically aimed at providing physicians with information about pediatric communication disorders and the ways that communication health professionals can help.  

Fact #47: The Opportunity to Communicate Is a Basic Human Right. SAC is one of the founding organizations of the International Communication Project (ICP), a worldwide initiative that seeks to raise awareness of the importance of communication health.

Fact #48: Learning Through Listening. Research has shown that many Canadian classrooms have poor quality acoustics, which can have serious effects on a child’s ability to learn. In 2009, SAC led the Concerned About Classrooms Coalition and held a joint press conference on Parliament Hill to urge governments to implement acoustical standards for Canadian schools.

Fact #49: And Now For Some Breaking News. SAC produces a variety of publications, including an academic journal, a blog for members and associates and several newsletters. One of the most recent additions to this repertoire is This Week in the News, a weekly roundup of news related to communication health. It launched in summer 2014. 

Fact #50: A 50-Year-Old Question. At the founding meeting of Speech-Language and Audiology Canada, one individual asked: “Why do we need a Canadian association?”

For 50 years, SAC has championed the professions and helped raise the profile of speech-language pathologists, audiologists and communication health assistants from coast to coast. SAC has spent decades helping to support our members and associates through publications, professional development and clinical certification programs, resources, position papers, guidelines and more. SAC advocates on behalf of the professions in the media and on Parliament Hill, and helps spread public awareness about communication disorders. SAC reaches out to politicians, educators, parents, families and other members of the health-care and education communities. In short: SAC works diligently to elevate the professions and promote communication health in Canada and beyond.

So to respond to a 50-year-old question, why do we need this association? The answer is simple: because everyone in Canada deserves the opportunity to communicate. 

From all of us here at SAC, here’s to 50 years … and counting! 



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