May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. "So what," one might say. Given the numerous observances of worthy causes, it's easy to let this one pass by, but we shouldn't. Hearing and speech are precious but taken-for-granted abilities, and they are more fragile than we imagine.
About 24 million people in the United States suffer from hearing or speech handicaps. That's one in every 10 people. It's safe to say that almost everyone reading this has a hearing or speech problem or knows someone who does.
To put these statistics into perspective for those who do not suffer from such a disorder, imagine not being able to hear people speaking to you or not being able to tell someone else your thoughts and ideas. Few would argue that these are profound losses.
The pain of people with communication disorders is often intensified by the thoughtless behavior of those around them. People who stutter, for example, have been objects of laughter and the butt of cruel jokes for centuries. Not an easy environment in which to overcome the problem.