Raise awareness on hearing, speech disorders

speech disorder

A child with stuttering problem visiting speech-language therapist at clinic.

Photo credit: Shuttersttock

Communication is the sharing of information from the sender to the receiver. It’s inevitable in our daily life experience. We communicate through various ways, including speech, eye contact, body movement and silence.

Communication deficits affect our social interactions with family, friends and employability. Friends and family of people with speech disorders tend to avoid lengthy conversation via phone call or face-to-face communication because of the amount of time it takes before complete communication has taken place. Most people prefer SMS, emails or written presentations.

May is known as the Better Hearing and Speech Month. It is a month meant for creating awareness on communication disorders. It covers any disorder that affects hearing, language and speech. It’s also meant for taking action for people with speech problems such as stuttering by identifying them, bringing them together and providing speech therapy.

Myths and misconceptions about persons with speech problems abound. Many people assume that persons who stutter or stammer are not smart, are slow learners or are inefficient in their places of work. Children who stammer experience ridicule and are denied opportunity to vie for leadership or to participate in class presentations.

 Employers also discriminate against persons with speech disorders in hiring and assigning tasks and promotions. In relationships, when selecting partners, those who stammer are looked down upon because they’re seen as an embarrassment and a burden.

It’s time we stopped stigmatising people with speech problems. Stakeholders should be involved in raising awareness to cure the ignorance and stigma around hearing and speech disorders.

Charity begins at home, so parents and teachers should be the first to stand up against this form of discrimination. They should show more love and appreciation of effort.  They should also facilitate free interaction with other children and adults.  Parents, teachers and healthcare providers should also make therapy more accessible.

Communication firms should adopt technologies that help these groups of people to communicate. Technology has made big strides in helping people with speech problems, for example speech assisted texting, but more needs to be done.

Technology gurus should come up with innovations that assist such persons lead a normal communication life. The government should spearhead awareness campaigns countrywide and also make therapy more available to those who need it.

Caroline Guywire, Narok

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