BACB Ethics App

Raymond G. Romanczyk, BCBA-D
and Jennifer M. Gillis, BCBA-D
SUNY at Binghamton

The most important content area of the Behavior Analyst Task List is the first: Client-centered Responsibilities (named Ethical Considerations in the Third Edition Task List). Practice of behavior analysis without comprehensive ethical guidelines would be tragically flawed and a disservice to consumers, the profession, and society. Fortunately, the BACB historically has had strong ethical guidelines for certificants, and recently has adopted a new slightly revised set, the Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts revised 2010 in accordance with the 4th Edition Task List.

Because the teaching of professional ethics is a complex and critical activity, and because of the equally important day to day process of resolving ethical dilemmas that face those in training service providers, supervisors, and teaching faculty, we developed the BACB Ethics App. Professional ethics are not about following a set of rules, but rather concern balancing a complex set of principles of conduct within the context of personal moral principles and society’s legal mandates.

Two specific repertoires promote ethical behavior: consultation with knowledgeable peers/supervisors/experts and fluency with the ethical guidelines. As part of our teaching, workshop, and supervision activities concerning professional ethics, we wanted a more interactive method of presentation and review of the guidelines. So, we developed a teaching tool to assist in this second aspect of fluency. The app provides quick access to the content of the ethical principles and assists in focusing discussion and exploration. We have found it very useful for our own teaching activities and offer it in the hope others may find it useful and to provide benefit to the behavior analytic community. A special thanks to our colleague Emily H. Callahan, BCBA-D for her very helpful comments and suggestions.

What is the BACB Ethics App?

We coded the new guidelines into a database that allows use of simple menus and search functions to navigate through the guidelines. It uses a hierarchical structure wherein the 10 major categories are presented, and by clicking on a category one moves to greater and greater detail. For both self-study and teaching purposes, users can also enter text into a notes field that can be either displayed or hidden by user choice.

Besides its ‘cool’ factor, we find this app to be a very useful teaching tool. As an example, at a recent workshop on ethics, this app was used via projection from a laptop as questions were fielded from the audience. Rather than using the app to simply answer a question, its use allowed the audience to see which of the 10 principles were applicable, and then to quickly navigate to the detail levels. This allowed for a discussion of the degree to which the actual item was applicable to the question’s scenario. It was easy to engender group problem solving, which reflects our opinion that ethics should be taught as a process of resolution rather than a list of answers.

We hope you find the app useful. Because we have ‘day jobs’ we do not plan additional enhancements or improvements as software development can be an endless process of refinement. So we offer it ‘as is’ as a courtesy to all our fellow behavior analysts. The following sections describe the use of the app.

Choosing the correct App version

The app comes in several ‘flavors.’ There are versions for Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, and iTouch. The iPhone, iPad, and iTouch version requires that FileMaker Go™ is installed. For the Mac and PC version, the app launches in a ‘run-time’ mode. That is, the data base software need not be installed. The folder that is downloaded from the BACB website contains all the necessary files and executes when the BACB_Ethics.app is launched. For use on the Mac or PC, the sequence is:

  1. Download zipped file from BACB website (Windows version | Mac version)
  2. Unzip file
  3. Place resulting folder where you wish in your directory
  4. Open BACB_Ethics folder
  5. Launch BACB_Ethics.app

To use on the iPhone™, iPad™, or iTouch™, it’s a bit more complex. First, you must have purchased FileMaker Go™ and installed it on the device. You must be familiar with FileMaker Go™ and the general working of FileMaker and file transfers to the devices. Thus, this option is not for the novice and simple instructions cannot be provided.

Using the BACB Ethics App

When you launch the BACB_Ethics.app, the following screen will appear.

This is the information screen. It explains aspects of the app. Clicking on the colored tabs displays the explanatory information.

For example, clicking the “Navigation & Icons” tab displays the following screen.


Clicking on the “Home” icon will take you to the primary user screen. From this screen you can perform search functions as well as directly choose the category you wish to examine. Clicking on a category brings up the next screen that presents the principle associated with the category you chose.

Clicking on the principle allows you to ‘drill down’ further to the sub-category items.

Clicking on a specific sub-category presents the following screen. This screen provides the definition of the selected sub-category.

For both the category principles and the sub-category items, clicking the “Show Notes” button displays a text box in which your own notes may be typed. You can also print out your entered notes.

You may also search your notes as well as the categories and sub-categories. As an example, a search of the word “client” within the sub-categories text yields the following.