COVID-19 Waivers Update

In April of 2020, we released two temporary waivers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Compassionate Exception Attestation for Experience/Fieldwork: We temporarily waived the observation-with-a-client requirement for trainees accruing experience or supervised fieldwork hours without access to clients.
  • Compassionate Exception Attestation for RBT Initial and Renewal Competency Assessments: We temporarily allowed with-a-client tasks to be assessed in role-play situations with client surrogates.

Now, with the advent of widely available COVID-19 vaccines and evidence that organizations have adapted their policies, these waivers will no longer be in effect beginning on January 1, 2022. Here is what this might mean for you:

  • For those who used the experience/fieldwork waiver, any experience or supervised fieldwork hours accrued on or after January 1, 2022, must meet the observation-with-a-client requirement. Be sure to retain the completed and signed attestation and, if audited, submit the attestation to the BACB.
  • For those who used the RBT Initial and Renewal Competency Assessments waiver, all with-a-client tasks documented on materials submitted on or after January 1, 2022, must be performed as stated in the Competency Assessment instructions.

Thank you for your understanding. If you have any questions or concerns, please visit the Contact Us web page.

COVID-19 Vaccine Considerations for BACB Certificants

The BACB commends all of its certificants who have endeavored to place the safety and needs of clients and staff at the forefront of their action plans to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The following information is being provided to our certificants as they make critical decisions about accessing COVID-19 vaccines.

The BACB offers the following considerations as certificants begin to move forward in the wake of newly available vaccines for COVID-19. This information does not constitute legal or medical advice, but it is consistent with the following standards from the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts.

  • 1.01 Reliance on Scientific Knowledge: “Behavior analysts rely on professionally derived knowledge based on science and behavior analysis when making scientific or professional judgements in human service provision, or when engaging in scholarly or professional endeavors.”
  • 2.02 Responsibility: “Behavior analysts’ responsibility is to all parties affected by behavior-analytic services.”
  • 2.05 (a) Rights and Prerogatives of Clients: “The rights of the client are paramount and behavior analysts support client’s legal rights and prerogatives.”

Certificants should also consider the recent guidance provided by the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs for physicians from the November 2020 AMA Special Meeting. Specifically, the AMA (n.d.) states that:

  • “When … there is an available, safe, and effective vaccine, physicians have a responsibility to accept immunization absent a recognized medical contraindication or when a specific vaccine would pose a significant risk to the physician’s patients.”
  • “Physicians who are not or cannot be immunized have a responsibility to voluntarily take appropriate action to protect patients, fellow health care workers and others … including refraining from direct patient contact when appropriate.”
  • “Physician practices and health care institutions have a further responsibility to limit patient and staff exposure to individuals who are not immunized, which may include requiring unimmunized individuals to refrain from direct patient contact.”

The BACB urges certificants to consider the AMA’s guidance when making personal decisions and creating organization-level policies about accessing COVID-19 vaccines. Should the BACB receive a Notice of Alleged Violation related to this topic, the review committee would likely consider the following questions in determining whether a violation occurred:

  • Was there a vaccine available to reduce the negative impacts of the pandemic?
  • If the certificant could not be safely immunized or refused the vaccine for personal reasons, did they take and follow appropriate actions to protect clients, stakeholders, co-workers, supervisees, trainees, and others from potential exposure?
  • If the certificant was responsible for organization-level practices, did they take appropriate measures to protect clients, stakeholders, co-workers, supervisees, trainees, and others from exposure to nonimmunized individuals?

Reference

RBT Remote Testing Restrictions Beginning March 1, 2021

When in-person testing was restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BACB sought approval from its accrediting body to participate in an exception program that offered flexibility for RBT candidates by permitting remote testing, with the understanding that additional data collection and security measures would be required. Remote testing became available for the RBT certification program on April 15, 2020.

On March 1, 2021, in response to typical examination-security concerns associated with remote testing, the BACB will begin restricting remote testing in select geographic regions as needed. If remote testing does not appear as an option at the time of examination-appointment scheduling, it is due to these restrictions, and in-person testing will still be available. Candidates who have an existing OnVUE appointment scheduled after March 1, 2021, and who are located in restricted regions will receive an email within the first two weeks of March with guidance on how to reschedule their examination appointment at a testing center.

Frequently Asked Questions

Remote testing was approved by the NCCA late last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because this examination-delivery method is new, additional security measures, including restrictions when necessary, are needed to meet the security requirements for administration of high-stakes examinations.


The BACB continually monitors data from all of our examinations. When suspicious scores in any geographic region reach a particular threshold, we restrict access to remote testing in that region for an undetermined period of time to prevent lapses in examination security.


Only the RBT candidate will be aware of the restriction at the time of scheduling their examination. Due to COVID-19, testing-center availability and remote-testing security must be constantly monitored, so restricted areas are updated regularly.


As an RBT Supervisor, you will need the help of the RBT candidates under your supervision to determine whether they are in a restricted area. Because restricted areas are updated regularly, the BACB is not able to provide additional information about geographic regions to supervisors or RBT candidates.

 

Response to Implementation Considerations of BCBA and BCaBA 2022 Requirements

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 time to submit a complete application by December 31, 2021. 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.

Scheduling Delays Due to COVID-19

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.

Temporary Allowances for Experience/Fieldwork and Competency Assessments

October 1, 2021, Update: As of January 1, 2022, these temporary waivers are no longer in effect.


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.

Online Proctored Testing Now Available for RBT Candidates

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.

Guidance for RBTs During COVID-19

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. Note: This waiver will no longer be accepted as of January 1, 2022.

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.

BACB to Offer Online Proctored Testing for RBT Candidates

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.

BACB Suspends Fees for Voluntary Inactive Status Applications (This update has expired.)

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.