Celebrating Speech and Hearing Month

By Bridget Burling

The importance of Speech and Hearing Month is amplified this May with physical distancing measures in effect. For those who have difficulties communicating, common interactions can be challenging. New restrictions such as being limited from seeing family and friends are especially trying for people who may not be able to speak on the phone or through a video chat. April Malandrino and Jill Witte are audiologists at Humber River Hospital. Although there are necessary measures in effect that are limiting interactions, audiologists such as April and Jill are going above and beyond to ensure their patients receive the best care.

For individuals with hearing loss, “[they] rely on visual cues which are lost during physical distancing and even when wearing a mask,” said Jill Witte. April and Jill along with other audiologists are still able to connect with a patient’s contact via phone appointments or in-person if the situation is critical enough. April noted, “patient’s caretakers are more than happy to answer the phone throughout the day since most of them are home now anyway. They have also been very understanding about this new form of communication and are trying their hardest to make the most out of it.”

A notable concern from both specialists is the social and developmental implications because of the cancellation of programs. April expressed that, “kids learn speech and language through play and meaningful interactions with friends.” With a lot of programs being closed because of COVID-19, it is unclear how that will impact the progression of auditory development, if spoken language is the chosen pathway of communication. During these unprecedented times, it is important to recognize the efforts of audiologists such as April and Jill as well as parents, caretakers, and patients during Speech and Hearing Month.

[Pictured: An audio booth used by HRH audiologists]