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Better Hearing and Speech Month: Communication for Everybody

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM), a cause championed by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). BHSM aims to raise awareness about communication disorders and the challenges they pose for those affected. Read on to learn more.

Featured in: May - Awareness Months, Days, & Observances

History and Background of Better Hearing and Speech Month

woman with hearing aids
Photo by Mark Paton on Unsplash.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) established BHSM in 1927 to raise awareness about communication disorders and their impact on people's lives. Initially, it was a week-long event, but in 1986, they turned it into a month-long observance during May, an ideal time for renewal and hope. 

Each year, BHSM centers around a unique theme, enabling us to scrutinize various aspects of communication disorders. For instance, the 2023 theme, "Building a Strong Foundation," highlighted the importance of communication in strengthening relationships.

BHSM has a rich history of notable accomplishments, including the advocacy for newborn hearing screenings. Previously, newborn hearing screenings were uncommon. However, thanks to the persistent efforts of the BHSM community, many states now have universal newborn hearing screenings. 

BHSM has also advocated for critical legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Cause and Its Challenges

feeling isolated
Photo by Lucia Macedo on Unsplash.

Communication disorders affect our ability to speak, hear, or comprehend language. They are also more common than many realize. 

The latest numbers from the CDC revealed that1 5.6% of adults in the US have difficulties communicating. Meanwhile, 15.5% of American adults have hearing issues.

Adults with untreated hearing loss may face limitations in their professional and social lives, leading to feelings of isolation and potentially impacting their mental health. On the other hand, for children, speech or language difficulties can hinder their academic performance and self-esteem. 

Aside from illnesses, loud workplaces or leisure activities can cause noise-induced hearing loss.

Despite the prevalence of communication disorders, effective treatment can be challenging. The cost of care can be high, creating a financial strain on families. Even a hearing aid can be expensive.

Additionally, a lack of awareness or understanding of early signs of communication disorders can delay diagnosis and treatment. Social stigma also plays a role, making some people hesitant to seek help.

Related Read: World Hearing Day.

Why Better Hearing and Speech Month Matters

Millions of individuals in the United States are living with some form of hearing loss, which is not limited to any particular age group or profession. Likewise, speech disorders can be equally debilitating as hearing loss.

Early detection and intervention can significantly impact the quality of life of those affected by hearing and speech disorders.

One can go to an audiologist to get hearing aids, treat hearing and balance disorders, or a speech-language pathologist to test one’s condition. They can avoid potential complications and promote their overall well-being. 

BHSM promotes understanding and raises awareness of various causes, effects, and solutions.

Efforts and Initiatives

little boy
Photo by Zoe Graham on Unsplash.

In the U.S., the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) leads the charge by highlighting the struggles of those grappling with communication disorders. The goal is to raise awareness and advocate for treatments that can change lives and bring back the simple pleasure of easy communication.

On a global scale, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the 'Make Listening Safe' initiative in 2015 to promote safer listening habits and reduce the risks of unsafe listening. This vital program has a worldwide reach, touching millions across different cultures and continents. 

Also, in the US, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) funds research and educational programs to improve hearing health and communication for those affected by speech and language disorders.

In Australia, the Hear and Say organization hosts an annual 'Loud Shirt Day' to raise funds for children with hearing loss. This event sends a powerful message of unity and ensures that children can access essential speech therapy and audiological services.

How to Get Involved and Support Better Hearing and Speech Month

Community organizations or healthcare institutions organize various local events and workshops. You can join these programs and connect with professionals, caregivers, and individuals with hearing and speech challenges. 

If you or someone you know could have hearing or speech issues, visit speech-language pathologists and other appropriate professionals. Also, encourage parents to send their children to experts for early detection and intervention.

Volunteering can also be an option to support organizations dedicated to hearing and speech disorders. It could involve helping with paperwork, assisting at events, or being there for someone navigating their hearing or speech journey. 

Additionally, one can use their voice to spread awareness by posting on social media platforms or organizing a fundraiser to support reputable organizations working for hearing and speech health.

Conclusion

Better Hearing and Speech Month addresses several communication disorders. This month recognizes the struggles, triumphs, and resilience of individuals with these disorders and their impact on daily life. Early detection and intervention are critical to changing the trajectory of these conditions. 

We must continue advocating for healthy human communication beyond May. Let us support organizations dedicated to this cause, participate in local events, and spread awareness to those around us.

Better Hearing and Speech Month FAQs

1. What is Better Hearing and Speech Month?

This annual campaign raises awareness about communication challenges and promotes the importance of early intervention and treatment.

2. Why is it important?

It helps educate the public about the impact of communication disorders on individuals' quality of life and highlights the need for accessible and effective services.

3. How can I support this event?

You can spread awareness, share resources, support organizations that provide services for individuals with communication disorders, and encourage those seeking help.

4. What are some common communication disorders?

Common communication disorders include speech sound disorders, language disorders, stuttering, voice disorders, and hearing loss.

5. How can I protect my hearing?

To protect your hearing, you can avoid loud noises, use ear protection when necessary, limit exposure to loud music or machinery, and seek regular hearing screenings to catch any potential issues early on.

1

National Center for Health Statistics. (n.d.) Percentage of any difficulty communicating for adults aged 18 and over, United States, 2019—2022. National Health Interview Survey.

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

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