As is the case every year, May is Better Hearing and Speech Month.
It was first founded in 1927 by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Today it is co-sponsored by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) — an arm of the National Institutes of Health — to raise awareness about hearing health.
But like so many plans, this year’s theme of “Communication at Work” has been sidelined due to COVID-19 (though that still seems somewhat apt, given how many people are working from home and trying to communicate from afar). As the ASHA website puts it: “We will post regular updates and new resources on COVID-19 until the end of May, so check here and ASHA’s social media accounts frequently.”
Within the world of audiology, COVID-19 has obviously meant curtailing in-person care. This will mean — when things open back up — that there will be a backlog of appointments to get through. Patience will have to be part of the “new normal.”
The global pandemic has left hearing care professionals scrambling to do business in new ways. This has included drop-off boxes, telemedicine, enhanced office cleaning, and monitoring staff for elevated temperatures or other signs of infection.
It’s also going to have significant long-term repercussions on other aspects of the hearing professional field. Current students studying for careers in the field have been plunged into virtual learning — and the loss of supervised practicum hours in the field.
Likewise, research and clinical trials — keys to continued innovation — are being disrupted and shelved.
Hopefully, this too shall pass. And, hopefully, there’ll never be another Better Hearing and Speech Month like this one.