For the first time in history, organizations in six countries that focus on speech, language, hearing, and swallowing issues have formed a coalition to raise international awareness of communication disorders and their treatment.

The International Communication Project 2014 (ICP), based in Rockville, Md. is a collaborative effort developed by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists & Audiologists, Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists, New Zealand Speech-language Therapists Association, Royal College of Speech Language Therapists and Speech Pathology Australia.

The ICP is built on the premise that although healthy communication is vital to the quality of life, communication disorders are largely overlooked as disabilities.

Spokespersons for each organization will participate in a Google Hangout on February 20 that will mark the public launch of the ICP. In addition, each country will pursue its own domestic outreach to raise awareness for the project throughout the year. Additionally, during the second week in May, all of the organizations will participate in a collective activity to heighten awareness raising efforts.

Additionally, the ICP encourages the public to sign the Universal Declaration of Communication Rights, a document that outlines the effects of barriers to communication and pledges public support for the millions of people worldwide who experience them. The ICP also urges individuals, communication professionals, and organizations to exchange information and share their experiences with communication disorders on the project website.

In a joint statement, the founding ICP countries emphasized that they “are committed to having the ICP not only cast a light on the importance of communication health to quality of life – and how that health can be achieved with timely intervention and professional help – but also to eliciting information about communication disorders and encouraging countries from across the globe to participate in this project.”  During 2014, the ICP will raise the public profile of persons with communication disorders and the positive difference that can be made with appropriate and timely professional intervention.

Facts and figures on communication disorders:

  • •Some 40 million people in the United States are estimated to have communication disorders.
  • •Nearly one third of employed people in Canada who have hearing difficulties report that their conditions limit the amount and/or kind of work that they can perform.
  • •In the United Kingdom, speech, language, and communication needs are the most common type of need among students in the English special educational system in state-funded primary schools.
  • •More than 1.1 million Australians have difficulty communicating.
  • •An estimated 10 percent of New Zealanders have a communication disorder.
  • •Up to 20 percent of the Irish population may experience speech, language and communication difficulties at some stage in their lives.

Source: International Communications Project