Ever considered the reason why you have a hard time listening in class is because you can’t actually hear? We’ve all been told that excessively loud music can take a toll on your hearing, but our generations seems to live by the idea that the louder, the better.  More than 28 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. Not only can hearing loss be treated, it can also be prevented.

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. The Speech Language Pathology Department at the University of West Georgia offers free hearing screenings in the Comprehensive Community Clinic (CCC), located in the Education Center Annex. Along with the screenings, the CCC works to develop speech skills, child and adult language disorders and develop cognition as it relates to speech and language.

Child speech and language problems include stuttering, articulation problems and slow development of vocabulary, concepts and grammar, as well as voice disorders (nasal, breathy, or hoarse voice and speech that is too high or low). All of these services are provided by graduate student clinicians and supervised by certified and licensed professionals.

“The important thing is to know that these services are available,” said Hannah Morin, a graduate student clinician.  “A lot of people can’t necessarily always afford to go to private practice clinics or rehabilitation clinics.”  The clinic is open and accessible to all university students, faculty, staff, and community members.

With the approach of Better Hearing and Speech Month, there are a few things the speech language pathology department wants people to know in order to protect themselves from damaging their hearing, speech and cognition skills. A few ways to prevent communication disorders are: reducing the risk for strokes by controlling blood pressure and not smoking, turning down the TV or radio when speaking with others to protect the voice and keeping the mind sharp by doing puzzles, reading and keeping up with current events. Most importantly, stay active and social. Get involved with your community.

A speech language pathology degree opens a broad spectrum of opportunities. After receiving a Master’s Degree in speech-language pathology and passing the national exam, licensed speech-language pathologists can work anywhere from schools and health departments to their own private practices.  Jenny Kenny, a speech-language pathology graduate student, said “The most rewarding part is when you’ve been working on something for weeks, and all of a sudden, you say ‘wow, he finally did it.’ It’s a long term thing. You have to be patient, but it does pay off.”

If you have any questions regarding hearing screenings or any of their other services, please call the UWG Comprehensive Community Clinic at (678)839-6145.  To learn more about Better Speech and Hearing Month, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website at www.asha.org.

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