Embracing Diversity and Inclusion: National Speech-Language-Hearing Month

May 7, 2024

In a world where communication is paramount to everyday life, society must have basic awareness and understanding of hearing and speech disorders. National Speech-Language-Hearing Month is observed each May to increase awareness of all communication disorders (ASHA, n.d.-b).  

This year, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) made a significant announcement that has shifted the way Better Hearing and Speech Month is perceived and observed.  

Traditionally known as Better Hearing and Speech Month, ASHA decided to rename the month to “National Speech-Language-Hearing Month." This change encapsulates the wide variety of ways in which communication occurs beyond hearing and speech. 

Communication is a multifaceted aspect of human interaction that involves the active process of exchanging information and thoughts (ASHA, n.d.-c).  

  • Communication disorders encompass more than just hearing and speech impairments. Effective and efficient communication requires language skills, social skills, and cognitive skills.  

National Speech-Language-Hearing Month aims to emphasize inclusivity, recognizing individuals who have diverse communication skills and needs.  

 AAC encompasses a wide range of strategies and tools designed to empower individuals with communication disorders who have difficulty speaking or unintelligible speech.  

  • These tools and strategies include light-tech communication boards, electronic speech-generating devices, symbols, writing, mobile applications, vocalizations, speech, and more (ASHA, n.d.-a). 

National Speech-Language-Hearing Month provides a platform to raise awareness about AAC and its impact on the lives of individuals with complex communication needs.  

  • AAC empowers them to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. It bridges the gap between the desire to communicate and the ability to do so, opening doors to independence, inclusion, and self-advocacy. 

Throughout National Speech-Language-Hearing Month, communities, organizations, and individuals are encouraged to engage in activities that promote awareness and support for all modes of communication.  

Here are a few ways to participate in National Speech-Language-Hearing Month:  

  • Educational Workshops: Host or attend workshops on AAC to learn about various AAC tools and strategies. 
  • Awareness Campaigns: Use social media platforms to raise awareness about communication disorders and the importance of inclusive communication practices. 
  • Fundraising Initiatives: Support organizations and initiatives that provide communication tools, resources, and support to individuals with speech, language, and/or hearing impairments. 

National Speech-Language-Hearing Month encourages society to broaden their understanding of communication beyond speech. It recognizes and emphasizes the diverse ways in which people communicate, including through sign language, AAC tools, and nonverbal cues.  

  • By embracing such diversity, a more inclusive society where everyone is heard and valued is cultivated. 

Communication Matters Month is a wonderful opportunity for society to reaffirm their commitment to promoting understanding, inclusion, and support for individuals with communication disorders, including those who rely on AAC. Together, society can create a world where communication barriers are shattered, and everyone can meaningfully engage in all aspects of life. When communication thrives, so does quality of life.  


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.-a). Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. https://www.asha.org/njc/aac/ 

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.-b). National Speech-Language-Hearing Month. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. https://www.asha.org/national-speech-language-hearing-month/ 

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.-c). Definition of Communication. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. https://www.asha.org/njc/definition-of-communication-and-appropriate-targets/#:~:text=Communication%20involves%20both%20understanding%20and,and%20alternative%20(AAC)%20devices 

Hannah Foley

Empowering Teams of Those With Complex Communication Needs Through Support and Implementation