Looking Ahead to "May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month:" Educating the Public about our Professions and our Clients

by Judith Maginnis Kuster - Minnesota State University, Mankato (judith.kuster@mnsu.edu).

Numerous online materials can be used to educate the public about the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology or about the people we serve. ASHA's consumer Web site provides excellent information to help educate the public about communicative disorders. Spend time exploring http://www.asha.org/index.cfm, which highlights information for children and adults. Be sure to check the extensive information on various speech and language disorders.

James Fitch at the University of Alabama, Auburn, has developed a course for non-majors (Communication Disorders in Society) in order to acquaint students with the various types of communication disorders they will come in contact with throughout their lives and to help them develop a sensitivity to the problems of people with communication differences. But his vision extends far beyond the borders of his own campus, or his own students. He not only offers this course on his own campus, but has made the entire course freely available to anyone with Internet access. The materials include his text, chapter quizzes, figures, study questions, and assignments. There are video-streamed samples of persons with fluency, laryngectomy, adult and child language, and speech differences associated with hearing loss.

Fitch envisions that his materials be used (with proper citation) to educate the general public about communication differences. His goal is to "have every community in the country involved in the public awareness program." (ASHA 2001). He invites his teaching colleagues to adapt his course materials to introduce such a course in community colleges or adult education programs.

Additional creative ways to use his materials include having students in communication disorders courses use his extensive quizzes as review materials; having adult clients and families of our clients educate themselves by reading the chapter about their communication disorder; or adapting the materials and information for presentations to various civic, businesses, governmental and social organizations.

Online Brochures

There are also numerous online "brochures" that can be used as handouts when educating the public about communication disorders. Some sites which contain several brochures are highlighted below. Each site includes additional relevant brochures.

The Stuttering Foundation of America

ASHA brochures online at kidsource.com Sinus Care Center National Aphasia Association

Judith Kuster is in the department of communication disorders at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her by email at judith.kuster@mnsu.edu.

Kuster, JM, Looking Ahead to "May is Better Hearing and Speech Month;" Educating the Public About Our Professions and Our Clients, ASHA Leader, February 5, 2002, p. 25.