ne in every 10 ethnic minorities is affected by a
communication disorder, such as stuttering, language
delay, articulation problems, voice problems, or hearing
loss. But communication disorders are only one challenge
to communicating in today's diverse society. Learning
English as a second language, teaching a child a second
language, or modifying an accent also present challenges
in an increasingly multicultural society.
Children and Bilingualism
Nearly 32 million people in the United States speak a
language other than English in their home and many are
likely to maintain and share their primary language with
their children. Materials from ASHA answer questions
about how learning the second language affects the first
and whether there is a "right" age at which to
introduce a second language.
Parents concerned about their child's speech and
language development should contact a speech-language
pathologist who is bilingual or has knowledge of the
rules and structure of both languages and can evaluate a
child's skill level to determine if a disorder
Dialect or Disorder?
The English language is composed of many linguistic
varieties, such as Ebonics, Spanish-influenced English,
Appalachian English, and standard English. But is a
linguistic variety a disorder? Although some dialect
speakers may have a speech or language disorder, the
dialect itself is not the disorder.
Speech-language pathologists, the professionals who
treat speech and language disorders, can distinguish
between a dialect and a disorder.
If you have questions about speech or language
disorders or bilingualism, or need to locate a certified
speech-language pathologist or audiologist in your area,
call ASHA's HELPLINE at 1-800-638-TALK (8255) or visit
ASHA's website at
Communication disorders affect approximately
Americans. Of these,
have a hearing loss and
have a speech or language disorder.
hearing health care professionals who specialize in
preventing, identifying and assessing hearing disorders
as well as providing audiologic treatment including
hearing aids and other assistive listening
Speech-language pathologists are
the professionals who identify, assess, and treat
speech and language problems including swallowing
the national professional, scientific, and
credentialing association for more than 120,000
audiologists, speech-language pathologists and speech,
language, and hearing scientists.