ASHA's Better Hearing and Speech Month has a long history of informing others about communication disorders and the roles of speech-language pathologists and audiologists. As a school-based practitioner, you can get in on the action and use the month as a teachable moment to bolster awareness of your work.
Here are some ways you can help spread the word about what you do:
- Ask your school district or parent organization to recognize SLPs and audiologists during the month of May. Consider conducting a brief PowerPoint presentation for teachers and parents on our roles, using resources such as ASHA's Roles and Responsibilities of SLPs in Schools slide [PDF].
- Help others learn more about communication and promote available services. Look at ASHA's Better Hearing and Speech Month website for products, sample public service announcements and other resources for the public.
- Create a set of messages to be read daily or weekly during the school morning announcements to educate students and staff.
- Invite parents and school staff to observe your treatment sessions and/or set up a BHSM table in the foyer of your school for parents and others to learn more about your services. ASHA has a number of educational brochures you can use, available in the ASHA store.
- Contact your local newspapers and radio and television stations with information about BHSM. ASHA staff have prepared an EduTalk segment on SLPs in schools.
- Praise good communication. One ASHA member who works in the schools offers tickets to any student she hears being a great communicator. At the end of the month, the students can put their tickets in a bowl for prizes.
And there are still so many other ways to harness BHSM to promote your work. Please share your ideas for promoting BHSM on the schools community.
BHSM provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the services we provide. One of the resources provided in the professional issues statement "Roles and Responsibilities of SLPs in Schools" is a self-reflection tool that helps practitioners determine if they are "doing great" or "need help" in the areas outlined in the statement:
- Critical roles.
- Range of responsibilities.
Reviewing and sharing this document with others will help them understand your roles. You also may want to review the "Performance Assessment of Contributions and Effectiveness of Speech-Language Pathologists"—a tool developed specifically for SLPs as an alternative to the typical value-added assessment tools designed to evaluation classroom teachers. The tool includes a self-assessment component.
Of course, these tasks take time, which is difficult to find as a practicing SLP. However, BHSM may provide a good opportunity to approach the school district to discuss workload and make the point that an SLP's value to a district increases when the SLP has time to perform the full range of responsibilities.
Finally, please consider BHSM as ASHA's sincere appreciation and respect for all that you do. Day after day, school-based SLPs support students in learning to speak, read, write and interact with others, all of which are important life skills. You nurture, encourage, teach, coach, explain and collaborate with colleagues to ensure students have the supports and services they need. You make a difference. We think you are great and hope BHSM helps get the word out.