The National Association for Hearing and Speech Action (NAHSA) announced today that starting in 2024, May will be recognized as National Speech-Language-Hearing Month instead of Better Hearing and Speech Month, which NAHSA—the consumer affiliate of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)—initiated in 1972.

“We’re excited about refreshing the name of a very important observance month,” says Vicki R. Deal-Williams, MA, CCC-SLP, FASAE, CAE, NAHSA’s president as well as ASHA’s CEO. “Today’s realities are much different from what they were more than 50 years ago, when NAHSA launched Better Hearing and Speech Month. We see the new name as an appropriate and needed step forward.”

The decision to change the name was not made lightly, Deal-Williams noted. 

“For more than a year, renaming possibilities and viewpoints from thousands of ASHA member audiologists and speech-language pathologists were solicited and considered. We now have a new name that aligns with their feedback—as well as with the name of its ‘parent’ organization, ASHA,” says Deal-Williams. “Also, the new name is inclusive and no longer includes the use of ‘better,’ which was perceived to indicate judgment of those who find value and validity in being differently abled. Additionally, the new name is among the briefer alternative names that were suggested which will help make it memorable and usable by media.” 

Educating the public about the importance of human communication and what can be done to prevent and address communication disorders is particularly critical now, as—coming out of the pandemic—more children are manifesting communication delays and disorders, the World Health Organization is warning about hearing loss from loud noise exposure, and the aging U.S. population is expected to experience communication challenges.

Annually and typically, the outreach takes an array of forms including bilingual media tours, public service announcements, digital campaigns, and downloadable information and resources for the public and professionals—reaching and engaging public audiences in the hundreds of millions and ASHA members in the thousands, the associations say. Also, leading entities like the U.S. Congress, the White House, state governments, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and others have recognized and promoted this observance month. 

NAHSA plans to foster awareness about the newly renamed National Speech-Language-Hearing Month with a variety of audiences, including ASHA members; relevant entities, organizations, and media outlets; and leading producers of observance calendars.

Photo: ASHA Logo