There is no other activity which clearly distinguishes human beings from other animals than the spoken language. Indeed, whatever achievements man has made better than that of animals are possible not merely because he is more intelligent than animals but because he possesses the vocal ability to articulate his thoughts much better. His abilities to understand and cooperate with fellow human beings, settle quarrels, express ideas to plan and execute activities are made possible by the power of the word. But for speech, many would only be as good as other animals.
That speaking is achievable by hearing underscores the strong relationship between the two vital organs. Man does not speak because he hears, he also learns to hear, listen and understand sounds or vocal symbols earlier before he learns to talk. The quality of his speech is, among other things, tied to the quality of his hearing.
What happens if hearing or speaking is impaired? If the sense of hearing is not able to perceive sounds or words as meaningfully as expected or one’s speech is not distinct or audible? This definitely creates some concern from whoever is affected as well as his family members. Inability to hear properly depicts that spoken language would be difficult to acquire and the extent to which hearing is impaired largely determines the severity of the attendant speech disorders.
Whatever the case, hearing and speech disorders are widely considered as unfortunate conditions in every human community. There is hardly any human society which condones disability of hearing and speech no matter the type or severity.
Anyone with failing hearing or unacceptable verbal skills will be burdened with frustrations and self- pity. Not to hear well or speak well is to lose or miss an important qualification ticket to human class. In other words, it is like being relegated to animal class. This is illustrated by a Yoruba (a Nigerian tribe) practice by which the deaf are described or taunted by placing leaves in the mouth, meaning that anyone who cannot hear or hear well is comparable to the leaf-eating goats. Being conscious of the loss of sense of human identity in such individuals usually drives them into reclusion, miserableness or suicide.
There would be no hope for hundreds of individuals who have distorted hearing or disturbing speech if rehabilitative services provided by hearing and speech specialists particularly the audiologists and speech-language therapists are not available. The responsibility for easing away the miseries of these individuals lies squarely on our shoulders. We are not only duty-bound to help those who cannot hear or speak to her and speak and speak but to also hear well and speak well and regain their hope to live happily.
We are aware of our professional responsibilities and consider ourselves extremely lucky to find ourselves on this job. We love and have chosen to give it our best. We also treasure our association. We are a body of audiologists and speech/language therapists in Nigeria. This is our website and we invite you to visit us, know about us and talk to us here. You are welcome.
Professor Julius Abiola Ademokoya