HAPPY BETTER HEARING AND SPEECH MONTH!!!
Each May, Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and the role of ASHA members in providing life-altering treatment.
For 2023, ASHA'S theme is “Building a Strong Foundation”
Our team urges anyone concerned about their hearing (or that of a loved one) to seek a hearing evaluation from a certified audiologist. Private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare generally cover evaluations. People can take this step even if they think they can’t afford hearing aids or other hearing services. Audiologists can advise people on ways to make hearing aids more affordable, and various organizations offer financial assistance.
Aside from hearing aids, audiologists can also identify other ways to improve a person’s listening and communication skills. They can also help families support loved ones with hearing loss.
Signs of hearing loss in adults include the following:
Blaise M. Delfino, M.S. - HIS (00:06):
You're tuned in to the Hearing Matters podcast, the show that discusses hearing technology, best practices, and a growing national epidemic: Hearing Loss. Before we kick this episode off, a special thank you to our partners. Sycle - Built for the entire hearing care practice. Weave - the all-in-one patient communication and engagement platform. Redux - Faster. Drier. Smarter. Verified. Fader Plugs - the world's first custom adjustable earplug. Welcome back to another episode of the Hearing Matters podcast, and as a friendly reminder, this podcast is separate from my position at Starkey. Now, with all that said, let's dive in. I kind of want to scream at the, uh, <laugh>, the top of my lungs right now, but I don't want you to have to rip off your headphones, but happy Better Hearing and Speech Month! This year's theme is "Building a Strong Foundation." Founded in 1927 by the American Speech Language Hearing Association,
each May this annual event provides an opportunity to raise awareness about hearing and speech problems, and to encourage people to really think about their own hearing and getting their hearing checked. And we're so excited to kick better hearing and speech month off with you, our amazing Hearing Matters podcast supporters. And this entire month is dedicated to raising awareness of hearing loss, what you should do if you suspect that you present with hearing loss, and why the role of the hearing healthcare professional is so important throughout the hearing aid fitting and post fitting process. I went back to previous episodes and this is the fourth Better Hearing and Speech Month that the Hearing Matters podcast team is celebrating as an actual like team and podcast. And we wanted to do a little something different. We'll share a few hearing loss facts, but what does better hearing and speech month mean to us,
The hearing care providers and speech language pathologists? The theme this year, as we said, is Building a Strong Foundation. What does that mean? I feel as though better hearing and speech month should be every single month. And really for us hearing care professionals and the speech language pathologists in the field, it really is every single month. It's every day we're helping patients hear better, live better. But what does this mean? Reflecting on my own journey as a hearing care provider, you know, reflecting on my "why." So, if you are a hearing care professional or a speech language pathologist tuned in right now, you know, what is your why? What does building a strong foundation mean to you? So, before we go into, you know what it means, as a hearing care professional, I wanna share a few hearing loss facts. And this is from the, uh, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
C D C, uh, much of this data was last reviewed on April 29th, '22. So, it is relevant. According to the World Health Organization's first world report on hearing, noise is now being acknowledged as an important public health issue and a top environmental risk faced by the world today. I am very pleased to see this because the world is loud. So, we really need to listen carefully. We need to wear hearing protection, be cognizant if we are going to loud places like a restaurant or a wedding, make sure you pack your ear plugs. Over 50% of people aged 12 to 35 years listen to music via personal audio devices at volumes that pose a risk to their hearing. I am part of the demographic of when iPods really started to make and enter the market. And we were so excited. And personal audio devices, you know, you have these buds that you're putting in your ear, but I would see so many people going to the gym with their iPod with the buds in their ears, and the gym is so loud, so the individual is having to turn up the volume even more.
And that is absolutely posing a risk to their hearing. A rule of thumb for staying safe is to keep the volume below 60%. So when you take a look at your phone, make sure it's not cranked up all the way. Turn it down. Let's preserve your residual hearing. If you frequently use personal audio devices around loud sounds, instead of turning the volume up, consider using noise canceling earphones or headphones. Litening through your personal audio devices should not exceed 80 decibels, uh, for adults or 75 dB sensitive users like children for 40 hours a week. And then listeners who regularly use portable audio devices can expose themselves to the same level of sound in 15 minutes of music at 100 db that an industrial worker would receive in an eight hour day at 85 decibels. Wow, life is loud. We need to listen carefully. We need to, number one, be aware that noise can cause hearing loss.
I'm encouraging you this better hearing and speech month to protect yourself, whether you are going to a restaurant, if you are going to a club, a dance hall. So reflecting on and kicking off better hearing and speech month, building a strong foundation, what does that mean? And thinking back to my own journey as a hearing healthcare professional, I'm gonna share my "why" and really what this year's theme means as a hearing care professional. And I think I speak for a lot of hearing care professionals out there as well. If you are new to the Hearing Matters podcast community, welcome. It's so great to have you. This means that you are looking to do something about your hearing loss. So we are here as a resource to continue to help you. And I am Blaise Delfino. I grew up in a family of hearing healthcare professionals.
My father is an audiologist. My mother is a hearing instrument specialist. My sister is a speech language pathologist. Like we have speech and hearing taken care of in the family. The home that I grew up in, actually, my parents started their first office in the home. So I'm a drummer, play music and I would be playing the drums and my mother would be flickering the lights. And that was the cue that I need to stop playing because she has a patient coming. And this would be like 4:30 in the afternoon. So I grew up in a family of hearing healthcare professionals, and it really didn't dawn upon me until maybe like middle school, high school of, oh wow, like you can really make a difference in someone's life. Understanding that we are social beings. That hearing connects us on so many levels, and just hearing the stories from these patients that, you know, were being fit with hearing technology.
And this is years ago as well, when the technology wasn't as good as it is today. And just experiencing that and seeing that, and I was never forced to come into the hearing healthcare industry. So my foundation of hearing healthcare was being set of witnessing and experiencing patients being helped, increased communication ability, increased hearing sensitivity with the hearing technology. It, it's, it's absolutely amazing and incredible. Um, that's how my foundation was built on seeing individuals and patients being helped and listened to. Because all too often in today's society, I feel as though a lot of the patients that, and this is not everyone in terms that's in healthcare, but this revolving door of the patient comes in and they're out. Well, in hearing healthcare, it is such a different model where the hearing healthcare providers, they're gonna sit you down and they're gonna listen because hearing is a sacred trust.
When you trust someone with your hearing, that is absolutely a sacred trust. So building a strong foundation, I'm grateful and blessed for the opportunity I had to grow up in a hearing home, if you will, and to literally firsthand witness how you can change and help someone on the road to better hearing. That is the career story of how essentially I was introduced to the industry. But when we talk about building a strong foundation. In today's day and age, I think that there is definitely more awareness when it comes to hearing loss, when it comes to the field of audiology, when it comes to the field of speech language pathology. You know, if you tell someone you're an audiologist, years ago they might have thought that you changed out car radios. Today, more people are saying, oh yeah, audiologist - ears. Or you'll say, "Oh, I'm, I'm a hearing healthcare professional."
And the response you'll get is, "huh, what?" As a joke. Um, but building a strong foundation, number one, to celebrate better hearing and speech month, personally, we are celebrating increased awareness of hearing healthcare, increased access to hearing healthcare. And I have to shout out all of our fellow key opinion leaders in the space of hearing healthcare that are raising awareness and continuing to build upon a strong foundation. When we talk about building a strong foundation, the first individual that I do think of is Mr. Bill Austin, the founder of Starkey. I have to just thank him and his vision and the heart that he has put into this industry since 1967. When we talk about building a strong foundation, Mr. Austin has absolutely done that, and he's built the strong foundation. And as a fellow hearing healthcare provider, I feel like it's my duty and obligation in tandem with all of you
incredible and my fellow hearing healthcare professionals, to carry on that legacy, to build upon that foundation and continue to build even a stronger foundation. Because we know that there's been so many threats when it comes to access to hearing healthcare and raising awareness of the importance of the hearing care provider, non-prescriptive versus prescriptive hearing technology. But if we take a step back, we again recognize the fellow key opinion leaders, Mr. Bill Austin, the additional leaders in the hearing healthcare space, leading with the heart and focusing on the patient and making every decision, whether it be a fitting decision, whether it be an accessory decision, you're leading with the heart and you're saying, "okay, this patient needs me. Number one, the hearing healthcare provider, and this is the technology that I have to help them increase overall speech understanding and intelligibility." So building that strong foundation, I feel as though us as hearing care professionals, we will continue to build a strong foundation with that awareness.
And again, I just wanna thank Mr. Austin for that...building a strong foundation. What I also think that we as hearing healthcare professionals can do this better hearing and speech month. What I am most excited about is a program called Listen Carefully and Listen Carefully addresses Medicare coverage, hearing protection, the hearing healthcare model, and OTC hearing aids. And this program raises awareness of hearing healthcare. It involves state and local elected officials. Really this is an educational platform to raise awareness of hearing healthcare, the field of audiology, why patients need the hearing care provider, because the hearing aid fitting process is so important. So there's so many layers to building this strong foundation. It really is like building a house. It's like, you know, Mr. Austin, thank you for laying that foundation. It is up to us his fellow hearing healthcare professionals to maintain that. Maybe we put on an addition to that already strong foundation.
And it really does come to awareness and there's so many amazing programs out there that are building upon this foundation. Really it's gonna be access. We've talked about affordability in the past to hearing technology, but again, the price of hearing technology absolutely outweighs the cost of untreated hearing loss. And to our patients tuned in right now, if you feel as though that you present with a hearing loss, please visit your hearing Healthcare professional. So again, that program, Listen Carefully, that's one of the many programs that are out there that are raising awareness of hearing healthcare professional, going out, educating the community. Michael Scholl, who has been incredibly involved with that program, has just done incredible work educating state and local elected officials on why the hearing healthcare professional plays such an essential role in the process of hearing health. So building a stronger foundation. We've talked about the key opinion leaders in this industry.
We've talked about Mr. Austin's incredible contribution throughout the many years he's been in the industry. We talk about Listen Carefully and, and all the other amazing programs that are out there that are going out and spreading the good word of hearing healthcare. And how about utilizing social media as a way to build a stronger foundation. You know, we've had Dr. Michelle Hu, who is an audiologist on the podcast. We've had Dr. Kelsey Kirkhove on the podcast. Uh, they are both pediatric audiologists and they have such a social influence as a group collaboratively, as professionals collaborating with each other. I'm a firm believer, don't compete, collaborate. We can really move mountains and spread the good word of hearing. If we continue on this collaboration and build a stronger foundation. It is my opinion that we are going to build that stronger foundation, not with competing but with collaborating.
So how can we as key opinion leaders continue to band together? What does that social strategy look like in terms of raising awareness in your own community? Are we going out to our community centers and conducting lunch and learns and listen, I get it, it's a lot of work. I was in private practice, I know the grind. Um, and I know there's only 24 hours in a day. But remembering your "why" again, utilizing and using this episode of why do we do what we do as hearing healthcare professionals? Your why should make you cry and don't wanna get too deep here, but we have an opportunity every single day to change the lives of patients who present with hearing loss and even if they don't present with hearing loss, let's talk about the patients that have auditory processing disorder. So we had Dr. Angela Alexander on the podcast a couple of weeks ago.
The scope of audiology is vast. It's not just hearing aids. Auditory processing, tinnitus, hearing conservation and much more. How can we as an industry build a stronger foundation? And yes, we have the awareness, but what does the scope entail? What does an audiologist's scope actually mean? What can they do to help patients hear better, to help them live better, to help them protect their hearing, to help them communicate better in noisy situations? If they present with normal hearing sensitivity and they do not present with auditory processing, but they struggle in noisy situations, what are some of the compensatory strategies we as hearing healthcare professionals are talking about? See, this is all building a stronger foundation for the field of audiology because my goal is when my time on earth expires that the field of audiology and hearing healthcare is in a much better place than it is today.
And we have an opportunity to do that every hearing healthcare professional in the industry, you are in this industry because you want to help the patient. You want to help them hear to the best of their ability and to hear life's story. So with that collaboration piece and building a stronger foundation, I love what Dr. Angela Alexander was talking about in our podcast episode a couple weeks ago and I'd encourage you go listen to it. It's all about auditory processing disorder. She talked about audiologists starting to conduct APD evaluation, APD treatment, and she has an entire class and community of fellow audiologists who will help you fellow audiologists and audiologists in general. If you haven't been practicing in the auditory processing space, she will team up with you and she will help you. That's a p d support.com. I believe it is on demand auditory training and uh, you can connect with Dr.
Alexander there. Celebrating better hearing and speech month. It is only right for me to also talk about the speech language pathology aspect of better hearing and speech month. This is directed towards any students tuned in right now and I'd encourage you to listen to the end because this is gonna be some, some pretty cool stuff we're gonna be talking about. So being genetically predisposed to hearing healthcare, I actually did not go to school for audiology. So I have a master's in speech language pathology and I have my hearing instrument specialist license. I am licensed in the state of Pennsylvania. It is only right to thank and to call out all of the professors that I had in undergrad and graduate school. Professors in the communication and science disorder field. You are molding the next generation of hearing healthcare professionals and speech language pathologists. And you are one of the many reasons why we are going to continue to build a strong foundation.
See, we wanted to go deep this episode. We could have talked about hearing loss facts and things of that nature, but what does building a strong foundation even mean? And where do we go from here? Where does the industry go? So I want to thank and extend my own personal gratitude to every single professor that I had in graduate school. Thank you for investing in me, for dedicating your time, and for me to duplicate your passion and your love for helping people communicate better. Cuz that's really how we continue to build a strong foundation. And to students tuned in, I know how difficult grad school is, it is a grind, but I can tell you there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you remember your why, and if you think of the patients that you are going to positively influence and positively impact and help hear better and help communicate better, that can get you through those really hard days.
And I know being that this is early May, graduation is is upon you and you'll probably enter the last stages of your summer externship. But thank you to all of the professors out there in the communication sciences and disorders field. Thank you. Thank you. On behalf of every single student in this country and globally, thank you for dedicating your passion and for showing up every single day for us, because we are the future of tomorrow. And you students tuned in, you are tomorrow's future and super excited for your continued success. So again, I wanted to take this episode and really deep dive. What does building a strong foundation mean? Think to yourself, what does it mean to you? If you are a private practice owner, I challenge you and I'd encourage you sit down with your team sometime this month, mute the phones, maybe even take some time on a Friday afternoon.
Order pizza in for your team, take 'em out. Doesn't matter. Sit down with your team and go around and say, "Why do you do what you do?" And I'm telling you, not only is that going to help the culture of your organization, not only is it going to remind you why you do what you do, but have you ever asked your fellow hearing care professionals why they do what they do? Like really why they do what they do? Because again, your why should make you cry. And that's really what gets all of us out of bed every single morning. Of course it's to help people, but how are we showing up for our patients? I'd encourage you, and that's another challenge. So I expect a full book report from all of my fellow hearing healthcare professionals who are private practice owners and work in the clinic.
But in all seriousness, I'd encourage you to do that activity and it's really gonna help the culture of your organization, but it's gonna make you feel good and you're all going to continue to walk in lockstep. Super excited for this month. Again, this month we are celebrating better hearing and speech month. We have all month to raise awareness of the importance of hearing healthcare because when we hear better, we live better. We want our patients to hear life's story. We know the comorbidities linked to untreated hearing loss. So let's raise awareness. Let's be loud this month on social media. Turn down the volume on your portable devices and please, I'd encourage you if you have any questions on the bottom of the show notes, if you're listening on Buzz Sprout, connect with us. We have an email address there. Feel free, throw us and send us any questions our way.
Connect with us on social media. To patients tuned in, thank you on behalf of the industry, thank you for placing your trust in us, the Hearing healthcare professional because the hearing healthcare professional plays and will continue to play an integral role in the hearing aid fitting process and post process, because we are fitting you with prescription hearing aids to increase your overall speech understanding and intelligibility. To students tuned in right now, hang in there. Graduation's almost there. Summer break is almost there. Don't take off from spreading the good word of hearing healthcare. And to my fellow colleagues currently practicing in the clinic, thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you do for the hearing healthcare community, for your patience. I cannot thank you enough. And thank you again to Mr. Bill Austin for your passion, for your love for humanity, and for really setting this incredibly strong foundation for the future of hearing healthcare. You're tuned in to the Hearing Matters podcast, the show that discusses hearing technology, best practices, and a growing national epidemic: Hearing Loss. I'm your host, Blaise Delfino. Happy better hearing and speech month. And until next time, Hear Life's tory.