Canada is a top-ranked country in terms of literacy levels, but almost 50 per cent of Canadian adults have difficulties with reading and numbers, according to the Movement for Canadian Literacy. To improve literacy levels, it is important for Canadians to develop and maintain literacy skills, and audiologists and speech-language pathologists have an important role to play in this area.
More than 5,500 speech-language pathologists, audiologists and supportive personnel are represented by the national professional association the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA). CASLPA members foster improved literacy in their daily work, including speech-language pathologists working in early speech development or emergent literacy programs and audiologists who diagnose hearing problems.
“Audiologists and speech-language pathologists are communication experts who play a significant role in maximizing the literacy potential of Canadians,” says CASLPA President Gillian Barnes. “The identification of hearing loss, learning disability, brain injury or other limitation is essential to daily life as literacy is so important to learning in school, functioning at work or communicating with family and friends. These professionals work with clients of all age groups to develop strategies to better communicate and interact with the world around them.”
In recent years, CASLPA has worked to educate the public to improve early literacy by producing a Speech, Language and Hearing Milestones brochure and two information sheets, Preschool Speech and Language Development and Hearing Health for Children. These resources are available at www.speechandhearing.ca.
“CASLPA members are setting an excellent example by putting Canadians in a position to reach their literacy and communication potential.” says Barnes. Early hearing screening and communication development programs focus on providing intervention, by six months of age, in order to maximize the development of language and literacy skills during the critical period (birth to 2 years).
On September 8th, many participated in the International Literacy Day Challenge. This year’s challenge focused on the workplace, including activities like reading a professional journal, doing a crossword puzzle, learning a new computer program, subscribing to a magazine, taking a professional development course or writing an email to a former colleague; lots of everyday activities can help you practice literacy. For more information on the International Literacy Day, please visit ABC Life Literacy Canada at www.abclifeliteracy.ca
For more information about the role speech-language pathologists, audiologists and supportive personnel play in the treatment of communication disorders or to find a professional in your area, visit CASLPA’s website at www.speechandhearing.ca.