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May is Speech and Hearing Month and Vision Health Month

May 30, 2024


From the Society’s Professionals with Disabilities Committee:


May is Speech and Hearing Month and Vision Health Month. Many of us take for granted these senses that allow us to understand the world around us and make ourselves understood. This month, we encourage you to put yourself in the shoes of someone with speech or hearing difficulties, and to learn more about the various forms of hearing and speech disorders.

The Canadian Association of the Deaf estimates that deafness (those with hearing aids or cochlear implants) affects roughly 3 million Canadians, of which about 360,000 are culturally Deaf. Individuals who consider themselves to be culturally Deaf don't consider their inability to hear as a disability and are proud to be from the Deaf community.

By age 79, 63% of men and 43% of women have mild hearing loss, while only 8% and 5% of men and women, respectively, admit it largely due to the stigma attached to hearing loss. The social consequences of hearing loss can be quite severe as it can lead to isolation, smaller social circles, loneliness, and it has impacts on learning, language, and socio-emotional health.

The following speech disorders are due to stroke, brain damage or injury, muscle weakness, damaged vocal cords, as well as being a side effect of other disabilities.

  • Stuttering refers to the interruption of the flow of speech, with disruptions that can be in the form of repetitions, blocks or prolongations;
  • Apraxia is a general term for speech disorders due to lost motor control;
  • Aphasia reduces communication and comprehension (reading, speaking, writing) due to brain damage;
  • Dysarthria is brain damage causing muscle weakness in the face, lips, tongue, throat or chest;

Finally, vestibular balance disorders cause interference between the inner ear and brain, affecting the body's balance system. Some balance disorders include: positional vertigo, a spinning/swaying due to crystals getting stuck in the inner ear; inner ear infections which can cause balance issues with hearing loss, and vomiting; and Meniere's disease, caused by too much fluid in the ear, which exhibits as vertigo and hearing loss. There are many other condition caused by growths or damage or infections of the inner ear.

Make sure that if you or a loved one are experiencing issues related to speech, hearing or vision you visit a doctor, pathologist, audiologist or optometrist to seek care. Early intervention is important to good health outcomes.

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