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Do Virtual Special Education Services Really Work?

Updated: May 26, 2023



The short answer is YES! Virtual or online therapy works just as well as onsite therapy. Virtually ConnectEd’s founders have been providing virtual services since 2009, before there were any studies conducted. Now, virtual special education services are quite commonplace and many countries have conducted studies on their efficacy and found the results comparable to onsite services.


Many associations across the world have have issued statements and conducted studies:


The American Speech and Hearing Association:


"Telepractice is the delivery of services using telecommunication and Internet technology to remotely connect clinicians to clients, other health care providers, and/or educational professionals for screening, assessment, intervention, consultation, and/or education. Telepractice is an appropriate model of service delivery for audiologists and speech-language pathologists (ASHA, n.d.) and may be the primary mode of service delivery or may supplement in-person services (known as hybrid service delivery)."


Speech-Language and Auditory Canada:


".... SAC supports the use of telepractice as a means of facilitating access to speech-language pathology and audiology services. SAC’s Position Paper on the Use of Telepractice by SAC Speech-language Pathologists and Audiologists provides guidance to members and associates about this service delivery model.

SAC members who provide telepractice services in provinces where the professions are regulated must adhere to the regulatory body’s standards of practice, including their specific professional requirements for the protection of patient/client privacy and confidentiality of personal health information, as well as processes for obtaining informed consent."


Speech Pathology Australia:

  • “Speech Pathology Australia supports the use of telepractice as a service delivery model where telepractice is based on current best evidence and where outcomes are at least equivalent to standard speech pathology care.

  • Organisations engaging in telepractice have a responsibility to ensure that individuals accessing telepractice and their carer/support staff are enabled and engaged in the delivery of the speech pathology service via telepractice.”

More studies on virtual services:


An Evidence-Based Synthesis of Instructional Reading and Spelling Procedures Using Telepractice: A Rapid Review in the Context of COVID-19

Furlong, L., Serry, T., et al. (2021). International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 56(3), 456-47


SERVICE DELIVERY TREATMENT "Findings indicated that instructional reading and spelling instruction delivered via telepractice can be feasible and engaging, and may be as effective as in-person delivery for school-aged students with reading and/or writing difficulties."


Systematic Review of School Telehealth Evaluations (2019) https://apps.asha.org/EvidenceMaps/Articles/ArticleSummary/58b11e1e-9579-4317-a74d-8d853500db8c

Sanchez, D., Reiner, J. F., et al. (2019). Journal of School Nursing, 35(1), 61-76.


""Three studies evaluating telehealth treatment of speech sound disorders found that telehealth outcomes were equivalent or somewhat better than traditional treatment, depending on outcome measurement" (p. 67). Additional research regarding service utilization and cost-effectiveness is needed."


Is Telepractice as Effective as In-Person Services?

https://www.asha.org/siteassets/practice-portal/telepractice/telepractice-for-speech-and-hearing-services-brochure.pdf


"Telepractice has been used to evaluate and treat people of all ages. Researchers have found few differences between telepractice and in-person services. Most clients who receive telepractice say that they are very satisfied. But telepractice may not be for everyone. You should discuss with your audiologist or SLP whether you or your family member could benefit from telepractice."


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