The following are suggested activities to raise awareness about communication disorders and your services during Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM).
Reach out to the media. ASHA provides press release templates for both SLPs [DOC] and audiologists [DOC], media advisory templates for both SLPs [DOC] and audiologists [DOC], and the Identify the Signs campaign member toolkit [PDF], all of which can be adapted and used in reaching out to local media for a story on early detection. Local public affairs shows are a good venue to approach about becoming a guest and speaking about recognizing the signs of a communication disorder, in light of the national Identify the Signs awareness campaign. A community newspaper may be willing to run a guest column/health piece on communication disorders in kids.
Visit your local legislators and/or organize a state advocacy day. ASHA offers tips and advice on how to set up and conduct a successful meeting with your state legislator. Contact the ASHA state advocacy team [PDF] with questions. You also may choose to invite legislators to observe what you do in your work setting.
Arrange a speaking engagement. Contact the community library about putting on a seminar for parents on a topic like Getting Your Child Ready for Reading and Writing. ASHA has ready-made presentations on certain topics that you can use. Of course, you may develop your own topic/presentation. You can also work with a local PTA chapter, community center, kid gym, or other venue to become a guest speaker.
Pick a high-traffic area in the community to share information. Community centers, local coffee shops, and many other neighborhood venues often have bulletin boards and information tables where you can leave materials.
Be social. Post facts about communication disorders, relevant articles, and other information on your social media accounts on a regular basis during BHSM. Ask people to share/retweet. ASHA provides sample posts and materials that can be used. Remember to use the hashtag #bhsm.
Discuss effective communication with kids. Ask students what words come to mind when they think of communication. Create a Wordle and display in the classroom.
Be creative. Give kids an art assignment, such as illustrating why communication is important or what communication means to them, in websites like ArtPad. These can also be posted in the classroom, cafeteria, or a display case in the school. Other ideas include writing a song about communication and holding a communication-themed scavenger hunt. Work with teachers to develop resources and activities that would heighten awareness of communication that they can do in their classrooms.
Distribute and display materials. Send a letter home to parents about recognizing the early signs of communication disorders. This template [DOC] will give you a place to start. Use the Identify the Signs posters in the main office, hallway, or other area to draw in students, parents, and teachers/administrators.
Educate your colleagues. Put materials (with goodies) in teacher, administrator, and school counselor mailboxes; arrange to speak at a staff meeting; or organize a staff lunch (order pizza!) to tell them more about your services. It is often helpful to talk with teachers about voice issues teachers sometimes develop, giving them ideas regarding good vocal hygiene.
Partner with the high school career/school counselor. Spotlight speech-language pathology and audiology as potential career paths. ASHA's "Reward Yourself" video is a great resource to showcase the benefits of the professions.
Make office visits. Bring materials about your services, or a candy jar with your business card, to local pediatrician offices or other clinical units to inform/remind them of your services should they see a patient who needs them.
Hold an open house. Invite colleagues in other departments and/or people in the community to an open house. You may choose to give a brief presentation or simply use the time for conversations and distributing information with refreshments.
Organize a free hearing screening. These are often among the most popular BHSM events. You can use the form [PDF] (do not modify the form by adding your personal information). You can, of course, provide your business card should someone want to follow up. ASHA provides a lot of patient information handouts through its Audiology Information Series (in English and Spanish) that you can distribute at a hearing screening.
Set up an information table outside a hospital/facility cafeteria. Give away earplugs or another simple giveaway, along with information about communication disorders and your department.
Place posters/materials in high-traffic areas. Inquire about placing materials in the lobby of a facility or other high-traffic area during the month. The Identify the Signs campaign posters provide an eye-catching visual that can be used to generate attention.