WASHINGTON, May 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- May 1st marked the beginning of Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) in the United States. Families, children and individuals with hearing loss, and organizations across the nation will commemorate BHSM and raise awareness about communication disorders, available hearing technology, treatments and communication outcomes for people with hearing loss.
Approximately 46 million Americans experience some form of communication disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "Adding to that number are 12,000 babies born deaf or hard of hearing annually in the United States, a number that doubles by kindergarten due to illness or late-onset hearing loss," says AG Bell Chief Executive Officer Emilio Alonso-Mendoza.
As a global nonprofit working to ensure children born with hearing loss can hear and talk, the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) is proud to once again join this ninety-one-year-old tradition.
"It's important to raise awareness about communication disorders and hearing loss because it's a difficult disability, but it affects all sorts of people," says Sharon Brady, whose daughter wears cochlear implants and uses listening and spoken language.
Each BHSM, AG Bell raises awareness that early hearing screening and intervention is available and that getting the help a child, teen or adult with hearing loss needs is key to ensuring communication access and successful and independent lives. This year, AG Bell is launching a digital media campaign to raise awareness about hearing loss and the communications options available to those with hearing loss.
"This Better Hearing and Speech Month, we want to remind parents about the importance of early hearing detection and intervention and the communication outcomes available for those with hearing loss. A child's brain is ready to learn language from birth, so parents can provide access to the family's (spoken) language(s) right away with support from their audiologist and listening and spoken language specialist," says AG Bell Chief Strategy Officer Gayla Guignard, who is also a licensed audiologist, speech-language pathologist and certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist through AG Bell's Academy.
Launched in 1927 by the American Society for the Disorders of Speech, which is known today as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), BHSM serves to encourage hearing loss screenings and promote hearing loss prevention and treatment. U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who wore hearing aids, expanded this scope by naming May as BHSM in 1986. The president's signature elevated the weight of BHSM to not only raise awareness and understanding about hearing health but also to spotlight issues faced by individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.
About the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) helps families, health care providers and education professionals understand childhood hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. Through advocacy, education and financial aid, AG Bell helps to ensure that every child and adult with hearing loss has the opportunity to listen, talk and live a life without limits. With chapters located in the United States, AG Bell International in Europe and a network of international affiliates, AG Bell supports its mission: Working Globally to Ensure That People Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing can Hear and Talk. Visit www.agbell.org.
SOURCE Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing