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Better Speech and Hearing Month is observed in May each year to increase awareness about communication disorders and hearing health. Founded by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), this day also provides an opportunity to honor the roles of ASHA members in providing treatment to those affected by speech and hearing disorders.
History of Better Speech and Hearing Month
While records about speech and language impairments have appeared in writings for centuries, history was not kind to those presenting with such problems. During the period of the Roman Empire, for instance, people with language impairments like stuttering were placed in cages for entertainment purposes. Passing citizens would throw coins into the cage to get these people to talk.
It was only much later that speech-language pathology became a respected profession and people were able to start seeking treatment for such disorders without facing stigma. 94 years ago, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) — which is America’s leading organization for speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech/language/hearing scientists — founded the Better Speech and Hearing Month, to promote understanding about speech and hearing disorders, to prevent hearing loss, and encourage people to seek treatment for hearing and speech-related issues.
Responsible for initiating the development of national standards for audiologists and speech-language pathologists and certification, ASHA aims to encourage people to be aware of their hearing and speech and make a change if there is a problem. ASHA runs the Better Speech and Hearing Month campaign throughout May, sharing information on their website to raise awareness for communication disorders.
Better Speech and Hearing Month timeline
Speech-language as an avocation begins when doctors, educators, elocutionists, and other similar professionals exhibit an interest in helping others improve their speech.
The National Association of Teachers of Speech (NATS) has its first informal meeting to promote scientific and organized work in the field of speech correction.
The American Academy of Speech Correction is formed.
ASHA designates this month as Better Speech and Hearing Month.
ASHA opens its first national office in Washington, D.C.
The new national office is set up in Rockville, Maryland, and holds the distinction of being the first nonprofit company in Maryland to have a LEED-certified green building.
Better Speech and Hearing Month FAQs
When is National Hearing Month?
National Protect Your Hearing Month is observed each year in October.
When is SLP Appreciation Day?
SLP Appreciation Day or National Speech Pathologist Day is held on May 18 each year.
What diseases affect hearing?
The diseases that can affect hearing are meningitis, mumps, cytomegalovirus and chickenpox, severe cases of jaundice, Meniere’s disease, etc. Exposure to certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss.
How to Observe Better Speech and Hearing Month
Adopt better habits
Improve your hearing and speech by following some simple routines. Avoid too much noise — lower the volume on your earphones, wear hearing protectors, plant a tree as a noise buffer. Improve your speech clarity by speaking to yourself in the mirror or repeating tongue twisters.
Talk about your journey
If you’ve experienced a communication disorder in your lifetime, or if you know of someone who has (and you have permission to share their story), sharing this will not only prove cathartic but can influence someone else to seek help without stigma or hesitation.
Share educational material online
ASHA dedicates this month to spreading awareness and encouraging open conversations about hearing and speech problems. For this, they share informational content like infographics and videos on their social media accounts, websites, and blogs. You too can do your part by sharing this material with your connections and contacts.
Facts About Better Speech And Hearing Month
It affects a sizeable chunk of the population
According to estimates, around 5% of the world's population experiences hearing loss.
The numbers are huge in America, too
The Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC) estimates around 48 million Americans are affected by hearing loss.
Noise causes hearing loss in teens
A study by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, published in 2017, shows around 13 to 18% of U.S. teens exhibit signs of noise-induced hearing loss.
Noise affects hearing for adults too
Tens of millions of U.S. adults between 20 to 69 years of age likely have hearing loss due to noise exposure, data shows.
Hearing loss increases with age
Almost 42% of 50-year-olds have hearing loss and this number increases to 71% for people over the age of 70.
Why Better Speech and Hearing Month is Important
It shines a spotlight on speech and hearing issues
ASHA founded this month to increase understanding and normalize treatment of speech and hearing issues and to give people affected with this disorder a better quality of life. By observing and participating, people like you give weight to these issues, bringing them to the forefront and normalizing our interactions with such disorders.
It makes us take stock of our communication ability
Often, speech and hearing disorders go unnoticed due to fear of being singled out or a lack of knowledge. The increased focus on such issues during this month helps us take note of our abilities and hopefully do more to improve our awareness about communication disorders.
Identifying communication problems become easier
The key to better management includes being able to identify problems at an early stage, allowing for remedial therapy, particularly where such issues may affect the quality of life. The information shared during this month goes a long way towards normalizing communication disorders and pushing people to go in for treatment if required.
Better Speech and Hearing Month dates