Lead Letter: Many people affected by speech, hearing loss

While we’ve made great strides in helping those with speech, language and hearing challenges, unfortunately, the number of people facing those challenges continues to grow.

■ 40 percent of preschoolers have speech and language delays.

■ 1 in 3 adults over 60 face impactful hearing loss.

■ 1 in 5 teenagers are experiencing noise-induced hearing loss.

■ Half of our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experience hearing-related challenges.

In North Florida we are seeing an increase in the number of children experiencing speech and language delays because of autism.

Helping preschoolers to overcome challenges and be ready to start kindergarten, able to communicate and ready to learn, free from any kind of impediment that will ostracize them from the outset, remains at the heart of our community mission.

A recent White House report detailed that for every $1 spent in this intervention, society benefits approximately $8.60, reducing the need for remedial education, thus lowering school expenses while giving a child increased confidence, improved psychosocial adjustment and the likelihood of higher lifetime earnings.

Audiology services include treating people with hearing loss, including veterans with tinnitus and hyperacusis.

A 2013 John Hopkins study has shown that treating hearing loss aggressively may help to stave off cognitive decline and dementia.

We salute the many providers in North Florida who work in speech pathology and audiology as well as Jacksonville University’s Speech-Language Pathology program that is training speech pathologists.

Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center, a nonprofit, has served 4,359 individuals, a majority of them paying subsidized fees or receiving complimentary services or hearing aids.

Donors make this possible, such as the United Way of Northeast Florida; the Jessie Ball duPont Fund; the Riverside Hospital Foundation; Medtronic; and our Jacksonville Lions Clubs.

Parents and caregivers, you play a critical role in your child’s speech and language development. For more information, please visit our website at www.shcjax.org.

Mike Howland, CEO,

Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center

Lead Letter: Many people affected by speech, hearing loss

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