Speech and Hearing Awareness Month: A Student Perspective
Why is this month significant?
There are many questions relating to our profession as a whole. Speech and Hearing Awareness Month can help promote awareness to the general public and educate people about what speech-language pathologists do. With these events, education about the role of speech- language pathologists and audiologists, the populations we serve, as well as various communication strategies, will be shared. These events will target individuals within the GTA, but also around Canada and beyond, through the use of social media and public figure support. Furthermore, increased awareness of our profession will provide information about early identification and intervention for potential disorders. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH, 2010), roughly 5% of children have noticeable speech disorders by first grade. Additionally, 1 in 4 adults have some form of hearing loss in Canada (Speech and Audiology Canada, (SAC), 2015). These are just few communication-related statistics that demonstrate the prevalence of communication disorders. It is imperative to share this with the public and highlight that communication health is no different than physical health (SAC, 2015). Signs and risk factors of a wide range of communication disorders can help individuals, parents, and family members identify the possible presence of a communication disorder and seek out support and therapy.
What impact do you hope the May month activities will have?
This event hopes to impact both people who have communication disorders and the professionals who serve this population. One goal is to help speech-language pathologists and audiologists promote their roles with the aim of being better understood and recognized by others. Raising awareness of the scope of these professionals will, again, also hopefully help with early identification. Additionally, and more importantly, it is hoped that this event will benefit individuals with communication disorders and their families by promoting advocacy and by helping to improve the public’s understanding of the challenges they face. Finally, this event aims to reduce stigma by showing that everyone CAN communicate and has the right to do so.
Was the success of last year’s event a factor in organizing the event this year?
Last year’s S-LP booth – organized by the Class of 2016 Speech and Hearing Awareness committee – was a great initiative that raised awareness about communication, hearing, and swallowing disorders. The students were able to reach over 100 people on the downtown University of Toronto campus, and provided them with a basic understanding of what our profession does and who we serve through, posters, pamphlets and games. OSLA had provided some of the resources for the booth and communicated that they hoped the event could continue again this year. This was one of the inspirations to carry it forward.
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