- An estimated 40 million people in the United States have communication disorders.
- In Canada, a third of employed people who have hearing difficulties say that their conditions limit the amount or kind of work they can perform.
- More than 1.1 million Australians have difficulty communicating.
These statistics and others like them have inspired organizations in six countries to join forces in the International Communication Project 2014 (ICP), an effort to focus the world’s attention on the overlooked and underestimated damage that untreated speech, language, and hearing disabilities inflict.
In a January 27 announcement, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) explained that ICP is built on the premise that, although healthy communication is vital to the quality of life, communication disorders are largely neglected as disabilities.
ASHA’s partners in ICP are the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists & Audiologists, the Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists, the New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists Association, the Royal College of Speech Language Therapists (in Great Britain), and Speech Pathology Australia.
Spokespersons for each organization will participate in a Google Hangout next month 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 2014 (each country’s activities will be listed on the ICP web site). Additionally, during the second week of May, all six organizations will participate in collective activity to heighten awareness worldwide.
DECLARATION OF COMMUNICATION RIGHTS
The ICP is asking the public to help them in their mission by signing 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.
In addition, the project participants are encouraging private citizens, communication professionals, and interested organizations to exchange information and share their experiences with communication disorders on the ICP web site.
The founding ICP organizations issued a joint statement emphasizing that they are “committed to having the ICP not only cast a light on the importance of communication health to quality of life, but also to eliciting information about communication disorders and encouraging countries from across the globe to participate in this project.”
Throughout the year, the ICP will work to raise the public profile of people with communication disorders and to publicize the benefits that appropriate and timely professional intervention can provide.