Each May, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) presents Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM). This is a month-long occasion to spread awareness of communication disorders—such as hearing loss—and the life-altering treatments and accommodations that are available for them.
Every year, ASHA chooses a theme for BHSM, and this year it is “Connecting People.” This is a great reminder of what hearing loss treatment is really about: maintaining our ability to communicate and connect with other people! ASHA hopes to help those with communication disorders become aware of the resources that are available to them, and the professionals who can help.
Audiologists in Schools: Week 1
Week 1 of BHSM focuses on the work that audiologists do in school systems to help students who are hard-of-hearing to enjoy the same educational opportunities as those with normal hearing. It’s important for children who have hearing loss and their parents to know about the opportunities for assistance that are available to them. Here are a few of the things audiologists do to help school-aged children and teens:
- Hearing Screenings / Hearing Tests – Screenings are conducted for all kids in the general population (even those presumed to have normal hearing) in order to identify hearing issues that have gone unnoticed. Tests are administered to those who are known to have hearing loss to monitor for any changes in hearing that might require an adjustment in treatment or new accommodations.
- Educating the Community – Audiologists talk with students and teachers to increase awareness of the problems hearing loss can cause both on the academic and the social side of education. They may provide intervention services when necessary, as well as education for students, families and staff about hearing loss prevention.
- Educating Staff – Audiologists help teachers and other staff learn the signs that a student may be struggling with hearing issues. Teachers can help identify these problems early if they know what to watch for, which can significantly aid in a child’s academic and social development.
- Family Counseling – Families may not be aware of the accommodations or assistive technologies that can help their kids in the classroom. School audiologists are aware of all the training and habituation services that are available, as well as education in American Sign Language and cued speech.
- Fitting Hearing Devices – Audiologists teach kids to use their assistive devices, help to maintain them, and teach families how to operate and maintain them.
- Recommending Classroom Accommodations – Sometimes a reorientation of desks in the classroom can provide a big boost to a child’s ability to succeed. Audiologists are able to help design a classroom environment that is conducive to learning for everyone, including kids who are hard-of-hearing.
- Referrals – School audiologists are on the “front lines.” They may identify an issue and then refer a family to a speech-language pathologist, social worker, deaf educator, otolaryngologist, or other professional who can help with a specific problem.
- Advice on a Student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) – This is a written plan that outlines a student’s specific goals and the support available to them to help achieve those goals.
More Throughout the Month!
Weeks 2 and 3 are dedicated to inpatient and outpatient treatment settings, while week 4 covers in-home and workplace settings. It’s important for those with communication disorders to connect with those who can assist them wherever they can, and this month ASHA is devoted to outlining all of these opportunities, as well as spreading awareness of hearing loss prevention.
A New Name
ASHA has celebrated BHSM since 1972, making this the 51st Better Hearing and Speech Month! While ASHA plans to continue observing the month of May to spread awareness of the issues affecting those with communication disorders, they are considering changing the name of the event. It may be that BHSM continues under its current name in future years, or there may be good reason to select a new name. If you’d like to suggest a new name for BHSM, or make a case for keeping the name as it is, send an email to email@example.com.
Whether you’re interested in custom hearing protection, hearing aids, or just haven’t had a hearing test in a while, make an appointment for a hearing test this Better Hearing and Speech Month and take charge of your hearing health!