William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital
Better Hearing and Speech Month
May is designated as Better Hearing and Speech Month. During this month the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is working to raise public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the various forms of communication impairments including those of hearing, speech, language, and voice. At the Madison VA hospital, the professionals in the Audiology, Speech, and Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) clinic work with veterans who have hearing loss, tinnitus, speech, voice, articulation and other oral-language disorders.
Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists are the professionals who specialize in the prevention, identification, and treatment of communication impairments. After earning a Ph.D, clinical doctoral degree (Au.D), or master’s degree, passing a national examination, and serving a year-long clinical internship, these professionals are eligible for certification in the form of the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Audiologists test hearing and balance, prescribe hearing aids and assistive listening devices, and counsel individuals with hearing loss on a variety of topics. Audiologists work in schools, private practice, hospitals, clinics, and other health and educational settings. Speech-language pathologists are the professionals who treat disorders of speech, articulation, voice, and other oral language problems. They may be learning based, acquired, or the result of accidental injury or illness at any age. Speech and language disorders can limit activities of daily living, social adjustment, and career advancement. Speech-language pathologists work in schools, private practice, hospitals, clinics, and other health and education settings.
Speech disorders can originate from various sources including, but not limited to Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Voice disorders are characterized by the abnormal production and/or absence of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, and/or duration, given an individual's age and/or sex. Language disorders are the impaired comprehension and/or use of spoken, written, and/or other symbol systems. Conditions affecting language disorders include aphasia, traumatic brain injury, autism, developmental disorders, and hearing loss.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that approximately 43,000,000 people in the United States live with a speech, voice, language, or hearing impairment. Almost 28,000,000 people live with a treatable hearing loss yet fewer than 7,000,000 uses a hearing aid. Given the population the VHA serves, many veterans have been exposed to loud noises whether military or recreational. Recreational activities that can put someone at risk for noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) include target shooting and hunting, snowmobile riding, woodworking, and other hobbies such as playing in a band, and attending rock concerts. Harmful noises at home may come from lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and shop tools. To prevent damage to your ears it is important to always wear hearing protection during times of exposure to loud noises. Living with speech-language disorders and hearing loss affects many aspects of one’s life. In a spirit of awareness, we recognize those who live with these conditions and the professionals to serve these individuals during the month of May.