May is National Better Hearing and Speech Month. Sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 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 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.”
More than 400,000 post-9/11 veterans have suffered hearing loss and tinnitus.While there is no cure for noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus, there are treatments available for both.
Hearing loss resulting from hazardous noise exposure is permanent, however, and there are many communication techniques that can be useful in difficult listening situations. Try:
• Instructing your conversational partner – Ask the talker to change the delivery (slow down, uncover your mouth, face me).
• Use close-ended questions – Phrase remarks to constrain the verbal response (Would you like water, tea or juice?).
• Set yourself up for success – Optimize the listening environment for communication (move to where it is quiet and well-lit).
• Go easy on yourself – Relax, breathe deeply.
• Anticipate – Observe situational cues, make predictions about the message or the speaker’s style.
For more information, contact your local military treatment facility or visit the Army Hearing Program, U.S. Army Public Health Command website at http://phc.amedd.army.mil.