Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Helping People Communicate

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

This month dedicated to raising awareness about communication disorders and to promoting treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing.

I have lived most of my life with hearing loss that and unbeknownst to me until recently affect my speech. It is like having Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD, ADHD) without knowing it until you are 50. My father said that ADD/ADHA was not a known name for it at the time – but assured me that I was indeed ADHD – and it was a full time effort to channel all that energy.

Better Hearing and Speech Month

  • For over 75 years May has been designated as Better Hearing and Speech Month -- a time to raise public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the various forms of communication impairments to include those of hearing, speech, language, and voice. Communication impairments affect the most vulnerable in our society -- the young, the aged, the disabled, and the poor.
  • Helen Keller once noted that of all her impairments, she was perhaps troubled most by her lack of speech and hearing. She elaborated that while blindness separated her from things, her lack of speech and hearing separated her from people -- the human connection of communication.
  • Speech-Language Pathology (Speech-Language Pathologists) and Audiology (Audiologists) are the professions concerned with the prevention, identification, and treatment of communication impairments. After earning a master's degree (consisting of required coursework and practicum experiences), passing a national examination, and serving a yearlong clinical internship, these professionals are eligible for certification, in the form of the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (Both of these professions were rated among the top 50 for job satisfaction in recent Jobs Rated Almanac.)
  • The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that approximately 43,000,000 people in the United States suffer from a speech, voice, language, or hearing impairment. Almost 28,000,000 suffer from a hearing loss. Approximately 10 percent of children have moderate to severe communication impairments, including speech production/articulation, stuttering, and language-learning difficulties. Children with speech and language impairments are 4 to 5 times more likely than their peers to experience other language-learning disabilities to include significant reading problems. Approximately 1,000,000 people in the United States have aphasia – a language disorder resulting from brain damage caused by a stroke.
  • An estimated 28 million Americans have a hearing loss that can be treated; yet fewer than 7,000,000 use a hearing aid. You could be one of them. Now is a good time to take stock of your own hearing and seek help if you think you may have a problem. (Guilty of this myself)
  • Yet most health insurance companies with not cover any portion of the expenses associated with hearing loss. Some will cover the office visit and testing – but to date, I have yet to find one that will cover the cost of the hearing aids and maintenance thereof. The costs of good quality hearing aids are expensive! Over the last couple of decades, as technology has made significant improvements in other areas, it has also done so with hearing aids and other means of communicating, such as social networking.
You have a hearing loss if you:

  • frequently ask people to repeat themselves
  • often turn your ear toward a sound to hear it better
  • understand people better when you wear your glasses or look directly at their faces
  • lose your place in group conversations
  • keep the volume on your radio or TV at a level that others say is too loud
  • have pain or ringing in your ears
A great starting point in your research on this topic is the American speech-language-hearing Association ( In my research for this article, there were many good web sites available, many of which provided excellent, current and timely information.

A man is talking to the family doctor. "Doc, I think my wife's going deaf."

The doctor answers, "Well, here's something you can try on her to test her hearing.

Stand some distance away from her and ask her a question. If she doesn't answer, move a little closer and ask again.

Keep repeating this until she answers. Then you'll be able to tell just how hard of hearing she really is." The man goes home and tries it out. He walks in the door and says, "Honey, what's for dinner?"

He doesn't hear an answer, so he moves closer to her. "Honey, what's for dinner?" Still no answer. He repeats this several times, until he's standing just a few feet away from her.

Finally, she answers, "For the eleventh time, I said we're having MEATLOAF!"

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