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Speech and Hearing Awareness Month – May 2024

Speech and Hearing Awareness is observed in May every year. It’s a month dedicated to raising awareness for communication disorders, helping patients overcome any type of hearing and speech illness, as well as celebrating the contributions of professionals in the speech-language-hearing industry. From speech-language pathologists, audiologists, hearing scientists, and other support personnel, we pay them respect for the help they have given, which includes assisting their patients and providing life-altering treatments. This awareness month supports S.L.P. patients and the efforts to eradicate the stigma attached to communication disorders. Learn more about the ways you can support and celebrate the cause this May.

History of Speech and Hearing Awareness Month

If you have seen the Oscar-winning film “The King’s Speech” in which King George VI overcomes his stuttering, you probably know that speech impairment and communication disorders have long existed despite the newness of its medical field. The history of all speech-hearing illnesses goes farther than even George VI’s time. It was over 2,000 years ago when Hippocrates, a Greek physician, first observed the symptoms of stuttering and aphasia. Around the same time, historians credit Satyrus as the first to combat speech impairments through diction lessons where he instructed his students to exercise breathing control, voice production, and articulation. Moreover, Aurelius Cornelius Celsus was the first to emphasize that the tongue is the origin of speech illnesses, advocating for gargling and eating pungent food as remedies for faulty articulation and other speech disturbances.

It was in the Middle Ages when language disorder was considered a separate entity from other forms of illness. In 1305, Bernard de Gordon wrote the book “Lily of Medicine” in which he described people with speech impairments as those who have difficulty expressing a concept. The progression and advancement of language disorder studies didn’t happen until the 1700s when doctors Johann Gesner in Germany and Alexander Crichton in Scotland documented different types of aphasia, which included the aftermath of a stroke or head injuries.

However, the official modern study of speech and language pathology began in the early 20th century. In 1926, the American Academy of Speech Correction was founded, and speech therapy became widespread over the next 20 years. In the late 1960s, a specific distinction between speech disorders and language disorders was acknowledged and applied to the field. Between 1975 to 2000, the Pragmatics Revolution took place, which included the development of conversations, social interaction, event participation, and other communicative tools, to clinically help patients. This movement has been a vital part of the speech and language treatment that we know today.

Speech and Hearing Awareness Month timeline

Formative Years of Speech Pathology

Global interest in speech treatment begins with the opening of schools dedicated to speech pathology.

1945 — 1965
The Processing Period

Professionals attempt to improve and develop internal psychological processing as a remedy for speech impairments.

1965 — 1975
The Linguistics Era

Professionals begin to separate speech disorders from language disorders.

1975 — 2000
The Pragmatics Revolution

Professionals begin to reframe their treatment by creating a more holistic approach, which includes social interaction, cultural participation, and other day-to-day activities.

Speech and Hearing Awareness Month FAQs

Who is the founder of speech and language pathology?

The official founder of speech and language pathology is Robert West. He was heavily involved in the development of the first S.L.P. doctoral program in Wisconsin.

What causes hearing disorders?

Many factors cause hearing disorders. These include constant exposure to loud music or noise, earwax buildup, or genetics.

What is the main cause of stuttering?

Stuttering is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, environment, anxiety, language development, and brain structure.

How to Observe Speech and Hearing Awareness Month

  1. Schedule a hearing exam

    It’s important to know that having your hearing tested annually is just as important as eye or teeth check-ups. Not only will this rule out any potential impairments, but it will also normalize the importance of routine screening for ear health.

  2. Attend seminars and symposiums

    Attend seminars and symposiums about speech, hearing, or language disorders. Knowing the facts about these illnesses can help you and others to raise awareness and correct any misinformation about these diseases.

  3. Educate your colleagues

    Another way to raise awareness, eradicate the stigma, and correct misunderstood ideas about speech and hearing disorders is to educate your colleagues. Arrange a meeting or organize an event dedicated to Speech and Hearing Awareness Month and spearhead the fact-dissemination about these disorders.

5 Interesting Facts About Hearing And Speech

  1. The risk of audio devices

    50% of people aged 12 to 35, who constantly use audio hearing devices, are at risk of damaging their hearing.

  2. The golden rule with earphones

    According to WHO, keeping the volume down to 60% when listening to music via earphones helps to avoid damage to the eardrums.

  3. Hearing loss has no known treatment

    There is no known treatment to completely cure hearing loss.

  4. Stuttering is more common than you think

    According to consensus, around three million Americans stutter or have stuttered.

  5. It’s common among children

    Communication disorders are some of the most common disabilities in children.

Why Speech and Hearing Awareness Month is Important

  1. We support anti-bullying causes

    More often than not, people with speech or hearing impairments are shamed or bullied at certain points in their lives. Speech and Hearing Awareness Month helps normalize these conditions by helping people to realize that these diseases are more common than they think. Eradicating the stigma is a step to combat the bullying and shaming of people who suffer from these disorders.

  2. It spreads facts and combats misinformation

    Unfortunately, we live in an era of fake news and misinformation. It is important to spread facts regarding speech, hearing, and language disorders, to separate the true risk factors from the myths.

  3. We support continuous research

    Just like any other field of science, speech pathology and other hearing and language studies are areas of continuous development. Raising awareness of these illnesses helps in the further advancement of research and studies, something that the next generation could benefit from.

Speech and Hearing Awareness Month dates

2024May 1Wednesday
2025May 1Thursday
2026May 1Friday
2027May 1Saturday
2028May 1Monday
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