Make the Most of May’s Spotlight on the Professions Better Hearing and Speech Month is the professions’ time to shine. Here are some ways to get involved with the four weekly themes. Spreading the Word
Spreading the Word  |   April 01, 2017
Make the Most of May’s Spotlight on the Professions
Author Notes
  • Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager.
    Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager.×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / Spreading the Word
Spreading the Word   |   April 01, 2017
Make the Most of May’s Spotlight on the Professions
The ASHA Leader, April 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/
The ASHA Leader, April 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/
While awareness raising is optimally a year-round effort, Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) marks one of the ASHA community’s best opportunities for public outreach. Each May, the association uses this observance as a springboard for making news about communication sciences and disorders and the professions.
In recent years, this effort has yielded some exciting results: high-profile op-ed pieces, nationwide broadcast media tours, Twitter parties with prominent parenting bloggers, and collaborative activities with leading government agencies, medical societies, professional sports teams, and much more. Last year, we reached more than 100 million people with our messages during May!
The foundation of any public awareness effort is our grassroots network. Now topping 191,500 professionals, students and affiliates, ASHA’s strength in numbers has significantly bolstered public awareness of speech-language and hearing disorders.
This year, ASHA opted to take a new approach. Rather than focusing on one topic all month long, we will spearhead four weekly themes—to encourage more members to get involved.
  • Week 1 (May 1–6): Noisy Society

  • Week 2 (May 7–13): Autism

  • Week 3 (May 14–20): Stroke

  • Week 4 (May 21–27): Bilingual Language Development and Disorders

ASHA will provide a variety of resources and activities in each of these areas. Some weeks will focus more heavily on traditional media outreach, others on social media, and others on collaborative activities with allied organizations. We invite and urge members to participate in any or all of the activities.
Here are some of the ways you can get involved.
Social media: for the third consecutive year, ASHA will host the “Speaking Up For Communication” campaign/contest. This low-effort competition helps you share information about communication disorders and the professions, reinforce your professional expertise in your online networks, and have fun. And, of course, you can win prizes! Once you enter, you receive two or three emails each week during May. Each message will contain an eye-catching digital resource—videos, infographics and more—that you can share with the click of a button to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks. Sharing (and other actions) earns you points toward a weekly prize (an Amazon gift card!). You can also earn a prize for recruiting others to participate. You can even opt to receive all resources or just choose specific areas of interest from the four BHSM topics.
Press outreach: ASHA has press release templates for all four topic areas, as well as media advisories for screening events. Use these to reach out to local media. Consider other avenues, such as writing an op-ed or guest editorial in your local newspaper. The Leader’s “Spreading the Word” archives have plenty of other ideas and tips for media outreach. The fact that May is a national awareness month provides the necessary news peg. Try to find local statistics about communication disorders and/or patient stories to further boost your likelihood of success.
Public events: Hearing and speech-language screening events are always popular during BHSM. Use or share ASHA materials at screening events (such as audiology patient handouts). You also might choose to hold an informational seminar at your public library or local hospital, present to a PTA, or partner with a local business—daycare, kid gym, senior center—on a topic of personal expertise or passion. ASHA has ready-made presentations on several topics on its website. For example, check out “Speech-Language Pathologists: Who We Are and What We Do” or “Building Your Child’s Talking, Reading, and Writing Skills: Kindergarten to Second Grade.”
Workplace awareness: BHSM is the perfect opportunity to inform peers about the role of audiologists and speech-language pathologists in a productive way. Try hosting a screening event specifically for employees and their families, put informational materials about your services in their mailboxes, visit classrooms or organize a fun BHSM activity. These gestures can go a long way.
Existing ASHA campaigns: BHSM is also a great time to make use of other public- and professional-awareness campaigns. “Identify the Signs”—ASHA’s early-intervention campaign—is still active and needed. The website hosts free, shareable materials you can use. ASHA’s “Value of the CCCs campaign”—targeting allied professionals who hire, supervise and refer ASHA members—also actively promotes you and your profession. The website offers a toolkit of resources to share. If you had a CCCs campaign ad created during either of the past two ASHA conventions, BHSM is a great time to use your ad if you haven’t already—or if you’d like to again.
Let us know what your plans are for BHSM and what you think by emailing us at
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April 2017
Volume 22, Issue 4