BACB COVID-19 Updates


The BACB is operating remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We remain operational and continue to process applications and respond to emails. We recommend submitting application documents electronically to avoid delays. If you must mail your application documents, use USPS (not FedEx or UPS). For all customer service inquiries, please contact us online. Thank you for your patience.

A number of new BCBA and BCaBA eligibility requirements will go into effect in 2022. We recently received several requests to delay the implementation of these requirements from individuals who were planning to apply prior to 2022 under the existing requirements, but whose progress has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We feel for the students and trainees in this situation. Because the BACB is not permitted to accept two different sets of certification standards during the same time period, the BACB Board of Directors considered the possibility of a delayed implementation of the 2022 requirements.

Given how the 2022 BCBA and BCaBA eligibility requirements (i.e., degree, coursework, fieldwork) were developed and how our certification programs are accredited, it is not possible to delay only one requirement (e.g., fieldwork). Thus, the Board considered the feasibility and various impacts of delaying all of the 2022 requirements. Among their considerations were:

  • possible negative impacts on individuals planning to apply in 2022 under the new requirements (e.g., new fieldwork requirements are not backward compatible with existing requirements, individuals with academic degrees that do not currently qualify but will in 2022)
  • possible negative impacts on university training programs that have already been training under the 2022 requirements
  • possible negative impacts on the profession (e.g., delayed implementation of more rigorous requirements)
  • potential confusion for students, trainees, supervisors, and faculty who have been preparing for the 2022 requirements since their announcements 3+ years ago
  • the availability of our existing compassionate appeal process for special circumstances

Ultimately, the Board decided to proceed with the originally planned 2022 implementation of the new BCBA and BCaBA eligibility requirements.

Guidance. We offer the following guidance for BCBA and BCaBA trainees who are unsure whether they will be able to apply prior to 2022. First, we encourage a careful self-audit of all requirements that have been completed and those that will likely be completed in the next 14 months. Faculty and supervisors should be able to assist with this process. This audit should include a determination of whether existing COVID-19 temporary allowances are relevant. Students and trainees who are still uncertain about when they will apply should review our BCBA and BCaBA transition resource documents. In general, if students and trainees are unsure whether they will be able to apply before 2022, we recommend meeting both the current and 2022 requirements to be safe. Finally, if a student or trainee has taken all of these steps and is not able to meet the 2022 requirements as a direct result of the pandemic, they should review our compassionate appeal process (located within the Administrative Appeal Request Form). This process was specifically designed to provide flexibility to individuals who can demonstrate that extenuating circumstances prevented them from meeting BACB certification requirements. Keep in mind, however, that submitting a compassionate appeal will not guarantee an extension and that the outcome will be based on a full analysis of how the pandemic has impacted the training timeline.

August 11, 2020

COVID-19 is impacting all of us in different ways. Right now, Pearson VUE is working hard to facilitate candidate scheduling for BACB examinations as quickly as possible. This is not easily accomplished in a time when test centers are experiencing significantly reduced capacity or being shut down with little, if any, advance notice. Pearson VUE testing centers must comply with orders to reduce capacity, along with all other COVID-19 social distancing requirements. Please keep in mind that, in most states, examination administrations at Pearson VUE centers were completely shut down for several weeks, and many are now operating at a significantly reduced capacity.

Unfortunately, this means that some of you may be experiencing longer than usual wait times when calling Pearson VUE. You may also encounter scheduling difficulties in states where test center capacities have been significantly reduced. Rest assured, as systems are being adapted to help facilitate your examination scheduling. As such measures are taken, you may see adjustments to your exam appointment (location, date, and/or time) in response to a facility reduction requirement or another change that impacts your previously scheduled examination. Check out the Pearson VUE FAQ for more information about adaptations to address COVID-19. Please pay special attention to whether your exam times are AM or PM. One of the adaptations made by Pearson VUE has been to extend exam center hours, with some operating nearly 24 hours a day.

We thank you for your patience and understanding.

April 28, 2020 (Modified August 11, 2020)

Due to social distancing requirements during the COVID–19 pandemic, we will provide temporary deviations for the following "with a client" requirements.

  • Experience and Fieldwork ("observation with a client") — As of March 1, and until further notice, we will temporarily waive the “observation with a client” sub-requirement for trainees who do not have in-person access to clients and, thus, are only accruing unrestricted hours. As always, all unrestricted activities must relate to a specific client’s needs.
    If you are a supervisor and you want your trainees to qualify for this temporary exception:
  • You (the supervisor) must complete the attestation for each month impacted.
  • You and your trainee must keep this document in your records.
  • In the event of a future audit, this form must be submitted for any of the qualifying months that were impacted.
  • RBT Competency Assessments ("with a client" tasks) — For all initial and renewal competency assessments received as of April 28, 2020, and until notified on the BACB's COVID–19 Updates page, we will temporarily allow the "with a client" tasks to be assessed in a role–play situation with a client surrogate.
    If you are a Responsible Assessor and you want those you are assessing to qualify for this temporary exception.
  • You (the Responsible Assessor) must complete the attestation and indicate on the Competency Assessment "role play."
  • You and the applicant/RBT must keep this document in your records.
  • The applicant/RBT must submit this document with the competency assessment when submitting their RBT certification or renewal application.

Continue to monitor BACB correspondence and the COVID–19 Updates page for the date on which these temporary exceptions will no longer be allowed. This is only applicable for the sub–requirements stated above and does not apply to any other requirements.

April 14, 2020

Effective April 15, 2020, live, online proctored testing is available for all RBT candidates via Pearson VUE’s online delivery system, OnVUE. This option, which the BACB is offering to RBTs on a trial basis following approval from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), is available while Pearson VUE’s in-person testing facilities are closed due to the COVID–19 pandemic.

With advanced features that include ID verification, session monitoring, browser lockdown, and recordings, the OnVUE platform includes security features that are necessary for a trial of remote testing for RBT candidates during this challenging and unusual time. RBT candidates should note the following important information:

  • Once a candidate’s application for certification is approved, they will receive a link to schedule their remote, proctored certification examination with Pearson VUE per the usual examination scheduling process.
  • The BACB and PearsonVUE will temporarily accept expired, government–issued IDs‚ candidates must have government–issued identification in order to sit for the RBT certification examination‚ through May 31, 2020. Both the BACB and PearsonVUE recognize the current inability to renew government–issued IDs due to the COVID–19 pandemic, and anticipate requiring non–expired government–issued IDs once again beginning June 1, 2020.
  • Candidates who request accommodations for the RBT certification examination will need to wait until Pearson VUE reopens its physical testing centers; the OnVUE platform is unable to provide candidates with testing accommodations other than adjustable font and color contrast.
  • Pearson VUE strongly recommends using a high–speed internet connection for online testing, and encourages candidates to test during less popular wireless access times. Bandwidth issues greatly affect the delivery of online testing, and such issues are beyond Pearson VUE’s‚ and the BACB’s‚ control.

April 3, 2020

The COVID–19 pandemic continues to raise a lot of fear and questions for many people around the world and our RBTs are no exception. First, rest assured that you're not alone during this challenging and unprecedented time. We're doing our best to offer guidance that allows you to make sound decisions about your livelihood and enables you to maintain your certification while responding to your questions as quickly as we can. We encourage all RBTs to take a moment to review the following information.

RBTs Who Are Unable to Provide ABA Services
If you've been furloughed or lost your job because of the pandemic, you do not need to report this to the BACB. Also, you will not lose your certification just because you're not working. One of the RBT maintenance requirements is to receive ongoing supervision for 5% of the hours that you provide behavior analysis services. However, if you're not providing or billing for services, you don't need supervision for the month and your certification will remain active as long as you still have an RBT Supervisor or Requirements Coordinator on record with us.

RBTs Who Are Providing ABA Services
If you're currently able to provide services, you must meet the RBT supervision requirements, but we may be more lenient about requirements that involve interacting with clients (e.g., the number of RBT–client observations). It's very important to maintain detailed documentation in case you're asked to complete a BACB requirements audit. That documentation should include information about how the pandemic has impacted your services, supervision, etc., and the steps you and your supervisor took to try to meet the requirements. While there's no need to report these details to us right now, you should document them now and report them to us when you submit your annual RBT Renewal Application. For more guidance on meeting RBT requirements during the COVID–19 pandemic, please read our March 17th “COVID–19 Update from the BACB,” on this page.

RBTs Who Don't Anticipate Using Their Certification Soon
If you don't expect to use your RBT certification any time soon, you can apply for voluntary inactive status. While on voluntary inactive status:

  • your certification is listed as “inactive” on the Certificant Registry
  • you may not practice, bill, or represent yourself as an RBT
  • you don't need to submit renewal applications
  • you may remain inactive for up to two years
  • you must complete the RBT Request to Return from Voluntary Inactive Status form when you're ready to reactivate your certification

Please note: You may not reapply for voluntary inactive status until you have completed at least one renewal cycle after returning from voluntary inactive status. Voluntary inactive status is beneficial because it allows you to pause your certification. When you're ready to reactivate it within the two years you are allotted, you don't have to meet all of the eligibility requirements again.

RBTs Who Are Due to Renew Their Certification Soon
If your RBT certification renewal is coming up, a process that includes completing the RBT Renewal Competency Assessment, and you are practicing, coordinate with your supervisor/assessor about meeting the renewal requirements.

For all initial and renewal competency assessments received as of April 28, 2020, and until notified on the BACB’s COVID–19 Updates page, we will temporarily allow the “with a client” tasks to be assessed in a role–play situation with a client surrogate.

If you are a Responsible Assessor and you want those you are assessing to qualify for this temporary exception.

  • You (the Responsible Assessor) must complete the attestation and indicate on the Competency Assessment “role play.”
  • You and the applicant/RBT must keep this document in your records.
  • The applicant/RBT must submit this document with the competency assessment when submitting their RBT certification or renewal application.

Have Questions About Providing Services?
If you have questions about how to provide services during this time (e.g., whether you can provide telehealth services), speak with your supervisor, employer, and/or professional associations. As a certification board, the BACB cannot provide specific direction or recommendations on these topics.

April 14, 2020 Update: Effective April 15, 2020, live, online proctored testing will be available for all RBT candidates via Pearson VUE’s online delivery system, OnVUE. For further information, please see the Online Proctored Testing Now Available for RBT Candidates post above.


April 2, 2020 (Modified July 14, 2020)

The BACB will temporarily offer live, online, proctored testing for its RBT candidates through Pearson VUE's online delivery system, OnVUE. This option will be available for RBT candidates while Pearson VUE's in–person testing facilities are closed due to the COVID–19 pandemic. The BACB is currently working with Pearson VUE to implement this delivery model and will announce the date it is available in the near future.

The BACB's decision to offer remote proctored testing for RBT candidates follows the National Commission for Certifying Agencies' (NCCA) announcement on March 20, 2020 that it will allow the use of remote–proctor testing delivery on a limited basis for organizations with accredited programs such as the BACB. The NCCA's announcement is in response to an urgent need for credentialing programs to make testing available following the closure of many testing centers worldwide due to the COVID'19 pandemic.
 
The NCCA recently approved the BACB's application to offer remote testing for its RBT certification — each certification requires a separate application — on a trial basis. The BACB's decision to pursue remote testing for the RBT certification while Pearson VUE's in–person testing centers are closed is because the maximum length of the RBT certification examination — 90 minutes — allows the BACB and Pearson VUE to help ensure a fair testing experience for all candidates. Unfortunately, the BACB cannot guarantee such an experience for candidates taking the BCBA and BCaBA examinations, which, at four hours in length, require heightened security and accessibility at a time when wireless Internet traffic has reached unprecedented levels.

With advanced features that include ID verification, session monitoring, browser lockdown, and recordings, the OnVUE platform includes security features that are necessary for a trial of remote testing for RBT candidates during this challenging and unusual time. Once an RBT candidate's application for certification is approved, they will receive a link to schedule their remote, proctored certification examination with Pearson VUE per the usual examination scheduling process. As part of this pilot program, BACB psychometricians will closely monitor all data associated with remote testing, which will then be used by the NCCA to determine whether to allow the BACB to continue to offer remote delivery of RBT certification examinations in the future.

PLEASE NOTE: RBT candidates who request accommodations for the RBT certification examination will need to wait until Pearson VUE reopens its physical testing centers; the OnVUE platform is unable to provide candidates with testing accommodations other than adjustable font and color contrast. Additionally, Pearson VUE strongly recommends using a high–speed internet connection for online testing, and encourages candidates to test during less popular wireless access times. Bandwidth issues greatly affect the delivery of online testing, and such issues are beyond Pearson VUE's and the BACB's control.

For further information, listen to our podcast.

July 6, 2020 Update: As of July 1, 2020, the unique Voluntary Inactive Status (VIS) applications, which were introduced for the temporary fee waiver related to COVID-19, were removed from use. Further, the standard VIS applications, with related fees, were reinstated.


March 31, 2020 (Modified July 6, 2020)

To help provide some financial relief for our certificants during this unprecedented time, the BACB had previously waived all fees for those applying for voluntary inactive status through June 30, 2020. Certificants wanting to make use of that temporary allowance needed to submit a unique version of the Voluntary Inactive Status (VIS) Application — previously available from this post — that pertained to their certification level.

Please note: Each BACB certification has different requirements for requesting voluntary inactive status. Please make sure you meet the relevant requirements for your certification level.

June 10, 2020 Update: Additional resource added from the Michigan Taskforce.

March 20, 2020 Update: We have updated the following information to provide a revised description of individuals who may be at increased risk of becoming very ill during the pandemic. The revised statement also clarifies the guidance provided to support certificants in making decisions around service provision. It is important to remember that the BACB cannot issue a blanket directive to continue or discontinue services due to the complexity of each individual situation and client.


March 19, 2020 (Modified June 10, 2020)

Because the COVID–19 pandemic is particularly impactful on vulnerable populations and their service providers, we offer the following information to our certificants as they make critical decisions about service delivery during this difficult time. Please keep in mind that this information does not constitute legal or medical advice.

First, we extend our gratitude to the many BACB certificants who had contingency plans in place to address service interruptions. We also want to serve as a resource for the many certificants who have contacted us for ethics guidance as they seek to develop and modify contingency plans consistent with the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (Code) during the pandemic. The Code is primarily focused on ensuring that high–quality services are delivered in a safe manner. Throughout the Code, it is clear that the primary directive is to do no harm to clients. Section 2.0, Behavior Analysts: Responsibility to Clients, states: "Behavior analysts have a responsibility to operate in the best interest of clients." Section 2.04(d) states: "Behavior analysts put the client's care above all others."

Section 1.04(d) of the Code makes it clear that certificants must comply with legal requirements, including those related to social distancing and service provision. Recent directives regarding social distancing may create scenarios that are not easily addressed under 4.07(b) of the Code. Essentially, the social distancing requirements could be deemed "environmental conditions [that] hinder implementation of the behavior-change program." Accordingly, certificants must "seek to eliminate the environmental constraints, or identify in writing the obstacles to doing so." 4.07(b). This means that if there are barriers to service provision in a particular region or context (e.g., a mandate to engage social distancing, high-risk clients) that cannot be removed or adequately addressed, certificants must document in writing the barriers and steps taken for each client.

As BACB certificants endeavor to uphold the Code and protect clients, we provide the following considerations:

Health and Safety

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently list the following as groups who may be at increased risk for getting "very sick" during the pandemic: older adults; people of any age who have asthma, COVID–19, or serious underlying medical conditions (blood disorders; chronic kidney and liver diseases; compromised immune systems; current or recent pregnancies; diabetes heart disease; lung disease; metabolic disorders; and neurological, neurologic, and neurodevelopmental conditions). For more information on these categories, please see the following resources: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019–ncov/specific-groups/high–risk–complications.html and Appendix A in www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019–ncov/downloads/community–mitigation–strategy.pdf. Each certificant is responsible for verifying whether a client falls into one or more of these groups to assist in fully determining the risks associated with continuing to provide services in their current form.
  • The World Health Organization and the CDC recommend social distancing to slow the spread of the infection, minimize the risk of infection to those considered high–risk, and reduce the strain on health services and resources. In the United States, the federal and state governments have directed the public to engage in social distancing, schools have closed or moved to online instruction, and many other public services have been limited or temporarily stopped. Similar practices have been enacted in many other countries.
  • The CDC indicates that individuals who are asymptomatic or have yet to display symptoms may expose others to the virus, and because testing is limited, most individuals are unable to verify that they are not infected. This means that service providers or clients who do not appear ill could be spreading the virus.
  • To minimize risk, service providers should consider developing a COVID–19 pandemic risk mitigation plan and implementation policies. The risk mitigation plan may include some of the following elements: regular communication with staff and clients about how to stay safe, telecommuting/telehealth, limits on air travel, attestations about symptoms and exposure, encouraging social distancing, considerations for determining whether to continue/augment/suspend client services, and cancelling services/sessions if clients or service providers are symptomatic or if deemed necessary to comply with social distancing recommendations.

Continuity of Care and Appropriate Transition of Services

  • Section 2.15, Interrupting or Discontinuing Services, indicates that certificants must work in the best interest of clients to avoid interrupting or disrupting services. This code element must be balanced with the overall requirement to not harm clients. Therefore, certificants providing services to vulnerable individuals must first comply with all government mandates (1.04(d) of the Code). Assuming there are no mandates to the contrary, the service provider must determine if the risk of suspending services (e.g., substantial risk of injury to the client) is greater than the risk of continuing to provide services.
  • If continuing services is deemed appropriate, the certificant must then determine if services can be delivered in a manner that does not unduly increase the risk of exposure to COVID–19 (e.g., enhanced disinfecting protocols, minimizing numbers and points of contact, using protective gear).
  • In the event that services should be suspended in their current form, the next step is to determine if services can be augmented (e.g., provide telehealth services, develop maintenance and generalization programming, create home-based program materials, move to parent consultation via telehealth) to minimize disruptions (i.e., minimize loss of critical skills).
  • If it is determined that services must be stopped, as opposed to augmented, providers should engage in appropriate steps to ensure continuity of care and appropriate transition (e.g., update reports and data, make relevant documents and materials available to caregivers, provide caregivers with a list of other relevant providers).
  • In summary, certificants must systematically and carefully consider the risks of stopping, continuing as-is, or augmenting services, and then take steps to carry out the decision in a way that minimizes risks to clients, caregivers, and staff and maximizes therapeutic benefits to clients.

As certificants make these difficult decisions, we urge you to follow all laws and public health recommendations from your local health authority and respective governmental agencies. We have compiled a list of resources relevant to the COVID–19 pandemic below. Note that including a resource is not an endorsement of the agency or organization, or the guidance provided by said agency or organization.

The BACB will continue to monitor the evolution and impact of COVID–19 and work to continue supporting the profession during this difficult time. If you have questions, please visit the Contact Us page.

Resources

August 12, 2020 Update:

Pearson VUE testing center availability has been changing on a daily basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, many testing centers that have opened are operating at a reduced capacity to implement social distancing measures (including the required use of masks). For the latest information regarding Pearson VUE testing centers and availability, please visit the Pearson VUE website.

Individuals who held an examination authorization in May 2020: We extended the expiration date of your examination authorization due to Pearson VUE testing center closures during the entire month of May 2020. If you did not receive an extension and held an examination authorization during that time, please review the Administrative Appeals Policy and file an appeal.

We continue to monitor this situation closely. To reach a customer service representative, please use our online Contact Us form.


 
April 27, 2020 Update: On May 1, 2020, Pearson VUE will begin reopening testing centers in areas that permit operation. Testing centers will open at a reduced capacity in facilities that can be equipped with appropriate social distancing measures (including the required use of masks). Please visit the Pearson VUE website for further details and scheduling.


March 18, 2020 (Modified August 12, 2020)

On March 16, 2020, Pearson VUE made the difficult decision to close all Pearson VUE–owned testing centers in the U.S. and Canada for a minimum of 30 days in response to the COVID–19 pandemic. Many other countries have closed their testing centers as well. For the latest information regarding Pearson VUE testing centers, please visit the Pearson VUE website.

Pearson VUE's decision was primarily based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which now recommends that no more than 10 people congregate in the same physical space in an effort to help contain the COVID–19 pandemic. We understand the closure of Pearson VUE testing centers presents a hardship for our certificants and consumers of ABA services. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide guidance to all those unable to test in the weeks ahead.

Individuals who hold a current examination authorization: We will extend the expiration date of your examination authorization by the number of days Pearson VUE testing centers are closed and you are unable to test. If you receive an automated email from the BACB that includes the date of your authorization expiration (e.g., reminders, expiration notices), please be aware that date will be adjusted once we know when Pearson VUE testing centers will reopen. Should your examination authorization expire during this period, we will reinstate it based on the number of days testing centers are closed and you are unable to test. This applies to all BACB testing candidates regardless of location.

Individuals who have submitted or will soon submit a BACB certification application: We will continue to process applications. If your application is approved, please disregard the examination authorization expiration date you receive in your approval email from the BACB. We will adjust the date your examination authorization expires once we have more information regarding the availability of testing.

We continue to receive inquiries about potential modifications to our standard testing practices, including whether candidates may test at other venues or in a remote environment. Because the BACB contracts solely with Pearson VUE, testing at other venues is not permitted. It is also likely impossible given that many other testing vendors are closing in response to the COVID–19 pandemic. Finally, due to our stringent examination security requirements and standards, we are unable to offer remote examination delivery at this time.

Again, we will continue to monitor this situation closely. While we have implemented remote operations to ensure the health and safety of all BACB employees, we remain operational and continue to process applications and respond to emails. To reach a customer service representative, please use our online Contact Us form.

March 18, 2020 Update: In response to the COVID–19 pandemic, Pearson VUE has closed all its testing centers in the US and Canada. Please visit the Pearson VUE website for the latest updates and to reschedule your BACB examination for a later date. You can cancel up to 24 hours before your scheduled examination without being charged a cancellation fee.


March 17, 2020 (Modified August 12, 2020)

The COVID–19 pandemic has implications for every aspect of society. Given this unprecedented situation and the impact it will continue to have on our certificants, clients, families, and trainees, we are offering the following information for BACB certificants and trainees in a number of areas related to our requirements.

Experience, Fieldwork, and Supervision for Trainees, RBTs, and BCaBAs

Our certification requirements were developed to provide flexibility in how they are met across a variety of conditions. In special circumstances, however, we have a compassionate–exception appeals process in which reasonable deviations that still meet the intent of our requirements may be accepted. This process may include greater leniency around specific requirements that involve interactions with clients (e.g., number of trainee- or RBT–client observations, minimum number of experience hours in a month). It is particularly important that you keep detailed documentation in the event you are subject to a BACB–requirements audit. That documentation should include information about how the pandemic impacted your services, supervision, etc., and the steps you took to try to meet the requirements. Finally, we encourage every BACB certificant and trainee to seek guidance from their supervisors about how supervision and service delivery might be impacted in the weeks ahead. Please see the “Temporary Allowances for Experience/Fieldwork and Competency Assessments” COVID–19 update for more information.

Examinations

Pearson VUE has implemented additional safety procedures and is providing regular updates to ensure the safety of our candidates. Remember that all BACB examinations are available on demand and you can schedule your examination for a later date. Additionally, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your scheduled examination without being charged a cancellation fee.

Continuing Education

The number of recent conference cancellations and the use of social distancing measures might impact how some of you with upcoming recertification dates were planning to obtain continuing education. Although we can't recommend specific continuing education providers, please note that there are many options available online. In addition, the new CEU requirements implemented in January 2020 no longer restrict types of CE activities, so some of you might be able to earn CEUs from other sources.

Application Submissions

Because mail service and processing may be impacted by changes to delivery timelines, the more information you submit electronically, the better.

Finally, we have implemented measures to ensure the health and safety of our employees, including remote work for employees beginning on March 17th. Although we have discontinued phone–based customer service during this period, we will continue to process applications and respond to emails. To reach a customer service representative, please use our online Contact Us form.