Today marks the beginning of Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) in the United States. Families, children, and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and organizations across the United States will commemorate BHSM and raise awareness about communication disorders, available hearing technology, treatments, and communication outcomes for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

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 successful communication outcomes that put them on the path to lead fully independent lives.

“Regarding children, the human brain is programmed to learn language during the first six years of life—with the first three-and-a-half years being the most critical. The early weeks and months following identification are a time when parents and caregivers are learning about and weighing different options, opportunities, and decisions that are a good fit for their child and family,” said AG Bell Chief Strategy Officer Gayla Guignard, who is also a licensed audiologist, speech-language pathologist, and certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist through AG Bell’s Academy for Listening and Spoken Language.

Research shows that early identification combined with therapy from a network of hearing health professionals, such as listening and spoken language specialists, audiologists, and speech-language pathologists, gives children and adults with hearing loss the best chance for success in school, their careers, and their interpersonal relationships.

Once a child is identified with a hearing loss, parents and caregivers will evaluate and choose the communication outcome best suited for their child, which may include a variety of approaches and technology, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, or both, as well as listening and spoken language therapy.

“High-quality early intervention services teach parents the skills they need to optimize their child’s unlimited potential. When my son was first identified, I understood that I was his main teacher. Through his speech language pathologist, I learned what to focus on, when it was developmentally appropriate, and how I could implement those ‘lessons’ into our daily play. We credit early intervention services for building the framework for our son’s success today,” said Julie Swaim, AG Bell’s early intervention parent consultant for AG Bell’s Listen-Learn-Link New Parent Hotline.

Intervention Critical at all Ages

Hearing loss also affects adults as they age and results from continued exposure to loud noises from the surrounding environments of everyday life, which can damage delicate structures in the ear and result in noise induced-hearing loss. However, this type of hearing loss is largely preventable. Measures to reduce noise exposure early on as well as regular hearing screenings are key to hearing health maintenance and protection from further damage with age. This year, AG Bell is partnering with Starkey Hearing Technologies to launch a noise-induced hearing loss campaign that will raise awareness about continued hearing health and hearing protection from childhood through the adult years.

“Our core mission is to help patients hear better and live better. We want to educate the public on how to live to their fullest potential and stay connected to those around them, whether it be through protecting their hearing or improving their overall wellness through revolutionary hearing aids that track your brain and body fitness and have life-changing features such as fall alert. We are honored to be partnering with AG Bell to support hearing health globally,” said Brandon Sawalich, president of Starkey Hearing Technologies.

More Resources for BSHM

A recent campaign to promote awareness of better hearing has been initiated by the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) and several other organizations. For more information and access to these free materials, click here.

Source: AG Bell and HR