Did you know that at some point in their lives, at least 20% of U.S. adults will encounter a significant problem with hearing, speech, language, balance, or even taste or smell? Speech-Language-Hearing professionals spend their careers helping individuals who are suffering from these types of communication and other disorders that compromise physical and emotional health. In addition, these types of disorders also have a major impact on a person’s social, vocational, educational, and recreational quality of life. These negative impacts and the Speech-Language, and Hearing professionals who are treating them are brought to light every May in the form of Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM).
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the lead organization in promoting awareness about communication disorders but is also joined by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Together, with other allied organizations, the month of May is dedicated to educating the public about a myriad of issues revolving around communication disorders, new treatments, and research efforts leading to improving the quality of life for all who are suffering from hearing loss or other communication disorders.
Why are these BHSM awareness events so important? Research by the National Council of Aging conducted a study of the impact of hearing aids for individuals with hearing loss and their quality of life. Results demonstrated measurable improvements in social, emotional, and physical well-being for hearing aid recipients. Specific improvements were identified as improved communication in personal relationships, increased intimacy, emotional stability, physical health improvements, and a greater feeling of control over life events.
Besides raising awareness around the diagnosis and treatment of hearing and communication disorders, BHSM is the perfect time to recognize the talented healthcare professionals who are treating these maladies. In the United States, there are over 145,000 Speech-Language-Pathologists and another 15,000 Audiologists who deserve a collective thank you for their efforts and innovation as they work to improve the lives of millions of Americans. They are currently working in a career field that is expected to grow 18 – 20% over the next ten years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.