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American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Rockville, Maryland


Communication is the heart and soul of human existence. Our ability to communicate lets us build relationships, learn from others and, ultimately, to live in society. Communication is a two-way street. We take information in (receptive communication) and we express our own thoughts (expressive communication). Conditions which impair an individual’s ability to receive or express information are called communication disorders. These disorders may be mild, such as a slight stutter or low-level hearing loss. Others can be severe, such as profound deafness or aphasia, where words cannot be used.

Over 24 million Americans, 10% of the population, have communication disorders. That means more Americans have a communication problem than have heart disease, paralysis, epilepsy, blindness, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis combined.

Communication disorders do not have to be problems. People who for one reason or another cannot speak effectively or cannot understand language, can through treatment develop strategies that will help them untangle the twisted messages that knot their ability to comprehend or express thought.

Two professions address the needs of people with communication disorders: audiology and speech-language pathology. Audiologists and speech-language pathologists are specifically educated to identify, evaluate and treat hearing, speech, and language impairment. Their training is rigorous and the most highly qualified earn the CCC (Certificate of Clinical Competence) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the national professional, scientific, and credentialing organization. To earn the CCC, audiologists and speech-language pathologists must complete the master’s degree, nine months of supervised clinical experience, and must pass a national examination.

Back in 1925, a group of “speech correctionists,” as they were then called, formed what became ASHA. To increase public awareness of all communication disorders, ASHA declared the sunny month of May Better Hearing and Speech Month.