May is Better Speech & Hearing Month
Communication is a key aspect of our daily lives, and many of us take it for granted. Since 1927, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has celebrated Better Hearing and Speech Month each May to raise public awareness of speech and language disorders that affect 14 million Americans.
Speech and language disorders can take many forms. Fortunately, most people with speech and language problems can be helped. Even if the problem cannot be eliminated, people with speech and language problems can learn strategies to help them cope. Therapy and equipment from a speech-language pathologist can help them live more independently.
One way speech-language pathologists can help individuals with a speech disorder is through the evaluation and instruction in use of an augmentative communication device. These devices can range from simple picture boards to high-tech speech-generating devices. The entire spectrum of products can assist an individual with disabilities to participate more fully at home, school, work and play.
"Communication takes all different forms,” said Sara Rider, a speech-language pathologist at Enable. “Signs and gestures, facial expressions, pointing, writing and typing, spoken words, vocalizations, synthesized speech production and body language are all ways that people communicate to each other. Communication is the way people can interact with each other from the most basic to the most complex level.”
“Daniel Webster said it best when he said, ‘If all my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest’. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I strive to give everyone I work with the ability to have that one most important possession: communication.”
Photo: Sara Rider poses with two communication devices. The one on the left is many years old and weighs over 10 pounds. Today’s communication devices, such as the one pictured on the right, are much more mobile and can be transported easily to school or work.