• January 24, 2014 2:05 PM
  • - General

Canada Partners with International Coalition to Raise Awareness of Communication Disorders

Speech, Language and Hearing Organizations in Various Parts of the World Join Forces

OTTAWA, Jan. 24, 2014 /CNW/ - For the first time in history, organizations in six countries that focus on speech, language, hearing and swallowing issues have formed a coalition to raise international awareness of communication disorders and their treatment. The Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA) is thrilled to be representing Canada in this important project.

The International Communication Project 2014 (ICP) is a collaborative effort developed by CASLPA, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists, the New Zealand Speech-language Therapists Association, the Royal College of Speech Language Therapists and Speech Pathology Australia. ICP is built on the premise that although healthy communication is vital to the quality of life, communication disorders are largely overlooked as disabilities.

"We are extremely pleased to be involved in this international effort to raise awareness of communication disorders, specifically in terms of how they impact Canadians," said Judy Meintzer, President of CASLPA and Canadian spokesperson for ICP. "Most people are unaware of just how prevalent these issues are: 1 in 6 Canadians are affected by such problems."

Spokespersons for each organization will participate in a Google Hangout next month that will mark the public launch of the ICP. In addition, each country will pursue its own domestic outreach to raise awareness for the Project throughout 2014 (each country's activities will be listed on the ICP website). Additionally, during the second week in May, all of the organizations will participate in a collective activity to heighten awareness-raising efforts.

"2014 is a significant year for increasing visibility on communication health issues," continued Meintzer. "This year is CASLPA's 50th anniversary, a key milestone for our organization. Throughout the year, we will be holding events across the country to raise awareness amongst the public, the media and politicians about speech, language and hearing disorders in Canada and the professionals who can help. Our involvement in ICP provides an even greater opportunity to focus on communication health disorders and the services available."

CASLPA and the ICP encourage the public to sign the Universal Declaration of Communication Rights - a document that outlines the effects of barriers to communication and pledges public support for the millions of people worldwide who experience them. In addition, the ICP urges individuals, communication professionals, and organizations to exchange information and share their experiences with communication disorders on the Project website, www.communication2014.com.

In a joint statement, the founding ICP countries emphasized that "they are committed to having the ICP not only cast a light on the importance of communication health to quality of life - and how that health can be achieved with timely intervention and professional help - but also to eliciting information about communication disorders and encouraging countries from across the globe to participate in this project." Throughout 2014, the ICP will raise the public profile of persons with communication disorders and the positive difference that can be made with appropriate and timely professional intervention.

"Many of us take our ability to communicate for granted and we hope ICP and CASLPA's 50th anniversary initiatives will remind Canadians that services for those who struggle with communication health disorders, a population, which often includes particularly vulnerable citizens like youth and the elderly, are critical," concluded Meintzer.

Facts and figures on communication disorders:

  • Nearly one third of employed people in Canada who have hearing difficulties report that their conditions limit the amount and/or kind of work they can perform.
  • Some 40 million people in the United States are estimated to have communication disorders.
  • In the United Kingdom, speech, language and communication needs are the most common type of need among students in the English special educational system in state-funded primary schools.
  • Up to 20 percent of the Irish population may experience speech, language and communication difficulties at some stage in their lives.
  • More than 1.1 million Australians have difficulty communicating.
  • An estimated 10 per cent of New Zealanders have a communication disorder.

CASLPA, with over 6,000 members, is the only national body that supports and represents the professional needs of speech-language pathologists, audiologists and supportive personnel inclusively within one organization. Through this support, CASLPA champions the needs of people with communication disorders. Visit CASLPA at www.caslpa.ca.

SOURCE Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA)

For further information:

Riana Topan, CASLPA Communications Assistant
613-567-9968, ext. 273
Email: riana@caslpa.ca
www.caslpa.ca • facebook/CASLPA • twitter.com/CASLPA