Ann Kummer: Raising Awareness for Early Intervention
“There are so many people who do not know what speech-language pathology is or what we do. I really like to educate people about that.”
Ann Kummer is no stranger to raising awareness of communication disorders and the professionals who treat them. As Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s senior director of the Division of Speech-Language Pathology, she has given many lectures to her colleagues on the importance of early detection and seeking help from qualified professionals.
Kummer also has extensive experience speaking with broadcast media on behalf of ASHA. In 2008, she was interviewed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital as part of a media package that highlighted the role of speech-language pathologists in child development. In the video, Kummer offered tips for parents for enhancing speech and language learning with their children and recognizing the warning signs of communication disorders. Local news outlets across the country used pieces of the package to help educate parents about these important issues.
Flash forward five years and she continues to offer her time and expertise to raising awareness of speech and language issues. At the launch of ASHA’s Identify the Signs campaign in September 2013, Kummer accommodated the Cincinnati NBC affiliate’s request for a local spokesperson to speak about the importance of early detection.
“I’m really passionate about early intervention because I’ve seen what happens when kids don’t get services in a timely manner,” says Kummer. “It takes so much longer to correct a speech or language problem, the longer that there’s a delay in getting services.”
Kummer continued to raise awareness in the Cincinnati area last year through interviews with other broadcast media outlets. By discussing the early warning signs of communication disorders and how professionals can help improve outcomes, she was able to educate parents and family members and also promote the profession of speech-language pathology.
“There are so many people who do not know what speech-language pathology is or what we do,” says Kummer. “I really like to educate people about that. What I’ve found is that every time I do a lecture or media interview, we get a lot of referrals.”
For Kummer, speaking with the media is a critical way to not only reach patients who might need help and their families, but also to reach pediatricians and other doctors who may not know where to send their patients for speech and language issues. Ultimately, her goal is to help the public, but creating a patient pipeline is an added incentive to her awareness-raising efforts.
“It’s not a lot of work and it’s very enjoyable,” Kummer says of conducting recent media interviews. As for tips for future ASHA Media Champions, Kummer says, “Make sure your comments are brief and make sure you are right on point.”