May is recognized as Better Speech and Hearing Month, BSHM; it is a time to recognize those who administer speech and hearing services as well as bring awareness to the fields.
BSHM was started by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in 1927. Since there is a whole month dedicated to them, let’s talk more about those providing speech and hearing services:
Speech Pathologists (SLPs)
ASHA defines the role of an SLP as they “work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults”. Due to the need for speech pathologists growing, the employment settings have widened. SLPs are found in private practices, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. In order to become an SLP, the most typical route taken is an undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD), but that major is not a requirement, and then continuation into a master’s degree. The master’s degree is the final step to become an SLP unless they would like to conduct research in which they can go on to a Ph.D. program in Communication Disorders. Along with SLPs, SLPAs, speech-language pathology assistants, are also able to administer speech services after finishing certification.
ASHA defines the role of an audiologist as those who are “experts who can help to prevent, diagnose, and treat hearing and balance disorders for people of all ages”. Audiologists are found in many settings like schools, ENTs, hospitals, Veterans Administration hospitals, nursing homes, and private practices. The path to becoming an audiologist is similar to becoming an SLP in terms of the undergraduate degree, but the differences arise in graduate school. Audiologists are required to complete 4 additional years of schooling to receive their Doctorate of Audiology degree. Other individuals that are able to provide audiological services are Hearing Care Professionals (HCPs) and Audiology Assistants, upon completion of appropriate certification.
While the two fields are specific and require different paths to work in the respective fields, they intertwine in the way that they are both needed for successful communication. Without hearing, it would be difficult to learn speech and vice versa. This is why generally the fields are grouped and celebrated together!
Bringing Awareness to Speech and Hearing
One way to bring awareness to speech and hearing is to donate money or unused resources and keep updated with new information from organizations:
- ASHfoundation: https://www.ashfoundation.org/ways-to-give/
- Hearing Aid Project: https://hearingaiddonations.org/give-an-aid/donate/
You are able to donate used hearings
- Hearing Loss Associations of America: https://www.hearingloss.org/make-an-impact/donate/
- Hearing Health Foundation: https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/donate
Take this month to reflect on the speech and hearing services you have encountered. If you are having difficulties, consult your local audiologist or hearing care professional.