Do You Know the Signs of Communication Disorders?

By Tara Guastella

Stuttering, a slow rate of speech, and mumbling. Struggling to say sounds, pulling or scratching at the ears, and social isolation. Did you know that all of these are signs of a hearing loss or a communication disorder?

Nearly 50 million Americans suffer from hearing loss and other communication disorders. These disorders, which are characterized by difficulty speaking or hearing, affect the youngest and oldest members of our society—and everyone in between.

When left untreated, their effects of can be debilitating. Too often, people struggle with these challenges and fail to seek proper, timely treatment. Early detection of speech, language, and hearing issues is absolutely critical to treatment success, impacting academic, social, and career outcomes.

Unfortunately, many parents, caregivers, spouses, and other loved ones are unable to identify the early warning signs of these issues or dismiss them too readily. A recent poll of the speech-language pathologists and audiologists of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)—the professionals who treat these disorders—reported that lack of awareness of these signs is the leading barrier to early detection.

To help remedy the situation, ASHA has launched a national campaign, Identify the Signs. We’re proud to announce that Hearing Health Foundation has joined this effort as a campaign partner. This yearlong multimedia campaign, which launched this fall, addresses the importance of early detection, helps the public identify the early warning signs of communication disorders, and encourages people to seek the most appropriate professional help.

The campaign includes TV, radio, print, and digital public service announcements and a media outreach push. Please visit the campaign website for information and resources, and share it with your family, friends, and colleagues. Above all, we hope you will seek help if you suspect that you or a loved one shows signs of having a disorder.

Early diagnosis is the most powerful way to reduce or even reverse the impact of these disorders and can give your loved ones the opportunity to lead the fullest lives possible.

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Hearing Health Foundation Launches Public Service Campaign

For Immediate Release
Contact: Libby Schnee

Hearing Health Foundation Launches Public Service Campaign Featuring Iraq Veteran and Others on the Prevalence of Hearing Loss
-- Research Underway to Find a Biologic Cure --

NEW YORKMay 15, 2012 -- Today Hearing Health Foundation announced its long term initiative to raise awareness and funds for hearing and balance research through a national public service advertising campaign featuring real people who suffer a hearing loss.  Johns Hopkins reports that nearly 50 million Americans suffer a hearing loss.  That number is expected to double in 20 years.  Hearing loss affects a growing number of teens and 60 percent of returning military from Iraq and Afghanistan, who acquire hearing loss or tinnitus due to noise exposure during service.

The campaign launches at a time when the nation’s attention is focused on the service of military veterans (May 19 Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day Weekend) whose lives are forever altered by the visible and invisible wounds of war.  “I suffered hearing loss serving my country as an army specialist in Iraq. The damage I suffered in combat is making it even harder to fit back in as a civilian,” said Specialist Rebecca Nava.

Other personal stories featured in the campaign include Katherine Simpson, “I started to lose my hearing in college.  Social situations became awkward.  And even though I had no reason to be embarrassed, it was hard for me to tell my friends.” Sean and Samantha Brownlie, who are 9 and 7 respectively, noted, “Hearing aids have helped me and my sister for most of our lives, but they’re not a solution for everyone with hearing loss.”

The public service advertising campaign includes television and radio spots of real people sharing their experience living with this unwanted change in their lives and their hope for a cure.  Hearing Health Foundation funds a research consortium, The Hearing Restoration Project, with the goal of finding a biologic cure for hearing loss within the next decide through cell regeneration therapies.  The campaign calls for people to learn more about the issue and the search for a cure by visiting

“Hearing Health Foundation has long been at the forefront of hearing and balance research, and we understand that it is important to invest in the next wave of hearing treatments,” said Andrea Boidman, Executive Director of Hearing Health Foundation.  “Hearing research is important to the future of a growing number of people, and they need to know that there are new treatments on the horizon that could really impact their lives.”  


Lt. Col. Mark Packer, MD., Executive Director for US Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE) understands what new treatments could mean for returning combat veterans. “In the military, hearing is critical for the instruction, teamwork and reporting that are necessary for mission accomplishment.  Hearing loss is truly a hidden disability and our aim is to address significant gaps in the military’s ability to prevent or mitigate and then treat this type of injury.”  The HCE is partnering with the Veterans Health Administration, Hearing Health Foundation and others to address this issue.

The campaign is timed with May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month and includes a new website community for consumers who are living with hearing loss to access helpful resources and information.  Hearing Health Foundation publishes Hearing Health Magazine, and award-winning publication that is free to those who subscribe.

About Hearing Health Foundation

Hearing Health Foundation is the largest private funder of hearing research, with a mission to prevent and cure hearing loss through groundbreaking research.  Since 1958 Hearing Health Foundation has given over $26.6 million to hearing and balance research, including work that led to cochlear implant technology.  In 2011 Hearing Health Foundation launched the Hearing Restoration Project (HRP), a consortium of scientists working on cell regeneration in the ear.  HRP's goal is a biologic cure for most types of acquired hearing loss. Hearing Health Foundation also publishes Hearing Health magazine, a free consumer resource on hearing loss and related technology, research, and products.  To learn more or support this work, visit

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