ROCKVILLE, MD—The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the early warning signs of speech, language, and hearing issues. The initiative, dubbed Identify the Signs, was inspired by a survey of ASHA members that found that public lack of awareness of the signs of communications problems is the number one barrier to early detection and treatment.
Identifying hearing and speech problems as early as possible is crucial, because research has shown that the sooner treatment of these conditions begins, the better the prospects for success. On the other hand, delayed treatment can result in isolation, poor academic or career performance, and delayed development.
Patricia A. Prelock, PhD, ASHA’s president, said, “Our members are speech-language pathologists and audiologists who see the consequences of delayed intervention every day. We are launching this year-long campaign to help the public identify and act on the early warning signs of communication disorders, allowing people to get the most effective treatment for the best chance at improved quality of life.”
Identify the Signs will consist of public service announcements in English and Spanish that will be disseminated to television, radio, and print outlets across the country. The effort will also include an online banner ad and feature a web site highlighting the early warning signs of speech, language, and hearing disorders, as well as consumer resources for treatment and help.
“An estimated 40 million Americans suffer from communication disorders,” Prelock noted. “This campaign has the ability to reduce that number by helping people to identify the first signs of these disorders and seek professional help at a time when treatment is most effective.”
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is a national professional association whose members include more than 166,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, speech, language, and hearing scientists, audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel, and students.