May 1 marked the beginning of Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) in the United States. Families, children, and individuals with hearing loss, and organizations across the nation will commemorate BHSM and raise awareness about communication disorders, available hearing technology, treatments, and communication outcomes for people with hearing loss, the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) announced. AG Bell helps families, healthcare providers, and education professionals understand childhood hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention.

Approximately 46 million Americans experience some form of communication disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“Adding to that number are 12,000 babies born deaf or hard-of-hearing annually in the United States, a number that doubles by kindergarten due to illness or late-onset hearing loss,” said AG Bell Chief Executive Officer Emilio Alonso-Mendoza.

As a global nonprofit working to ensure children born with hearing loss can hear and talk, AG Bell is proud to once again join this 91-year old tradition.

“It’s important to raise awareness about communication disorders and hearing loss because it’s a difficult disability, but it affects all sorts of people,” said Sharon Brady, whose daughter wears cochlear implants and uses listening and spoken language.

Each BHSM, AG Bell raises awareness that early hearing screening and intervention is available and that getting the help a child, teen, or adult with hearing loss needs is key to ensuring communication access and successful and independent lives. This year, AG Bell is launching a digital media campaign to raise awareness about hearing loss and the communication options available to those with hearing loss.

“This Better Hearing and Speech Month, we want to remind parents about the importance of early hearing detection and intervention and the communication outcomes available for those with hearing loss,” said AG Bell Chief Strategy Officer Gayla Guignard. “A child’s brain is ready to learn language from birth, so parents can provide access to the family’s (spoken) language(s) right away with support from their audiologist and listening and spoken language specialist.”

Launched in 1927 by the American Society for the Disorders of Speech, which is known today as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), BHSM serves to encourage hearing loss screenings and promote hearing loss prevention and treatment. Former President Ronald Reagan, who wore hearing aids, expanded this scope by naming May as BHSM in 1986. The president’s signature elevated the weight of BHSM to not only raise awareness and understanding about hearing health, but also to spotlight issues faced by individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Source: AG Bell