The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), observes Better Hearing and Speech Month this May.
Sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) since 1927, this annual observance provides opportunities to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing. Communication disorders include, for example, hearing loss, tinnitus (a sensation of a ringing, roaring, or buzzing sound in the ears or head), and stuttering.
This year’s Better Hearing and Speech Month theme is: Helping People Communicate.
“Communication disorders decrease quality of life, across all ethnic and socioeconomic lines, and impose a significant social and economic burden upon individuals, their families, and the communities in which they live,” said NIDCD Director James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D. “Millions of Americans experience a communication disorder at some point in their life, and they can be particularly challenging for young children and older adults.”
The NIDCD conducts and supports research in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language. Research supported by the NIDCD has led to many advances in treating communication disorders. For example, NIDCD’s support was instrumental in the development of the cochlear implant, a device that provides a sense of sound to people who are profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing. Currently, NIDCD-supported researchers are studying children with autism who never learn to speak, in hopes of finding therapeutic interventions that could help them develop functional language skills and give them the ability to communicate with the world around them.
Better Hearing and Speech Month is a good opportunity to learn more about symptoms, diagnosis, treatments and resources available to those with communication disorders. The NIDCD has several updated publications to help you identify communication disorders that could affect hearing, speech, and language at different stages in life. These publications also include information about current research related to the disorders.
Resources and updated publications
It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing® Campaign.
This health education campaign aims to increase awareness of the causes and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss. The campaign targets parents and tweens (preteens) about the only known hearing loss that is 100 percent preventable.
Ear Infections in Children
Anyone can get an ear infection, but children get them more often than adults. Three out of four children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. Untreated ear infections can lead to hearing loss in later life.
Enlarged Vestibular Aqueducts
Research suggests that most children with enlarged vestibular aqueducts (EVA) will develop some amount of hearing loss. EVA has many causes, not all of which are fully understood.
Pendred syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes early hearing loss in children. It also can create problems with balance.
Visit the NIDCD website for more information on hearing, voice, speech, and language or contact the NIDCD Information Clearinghouse at (800) 241-1044 or (800) 241-1055 (TTY) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Better Hearing and Speech Month, visit the ASHA website.