Better Hearing & Speech Month Roundup–Week 5

Second place winner of the BHSM Drawing Contest--by Paul Gammaitoni, Age 7

Sadly, Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) has come to a close! So many great posts, articles, events, tweets and stories shared–the messages will undoubtedly resound well beyond this one month. Here are just a few of the many great posts we noticed from this last week of BHSM:

  •  The Kansas Speech-Language-Hearing Association produced five podcasts in honor of BHSM examining issues relevant to SLPs and audiologists.
  • Even the Department of Defense’s Hearing Center of Excellence got involved in highlighting the importance of BHSM, sharing plans to embark on a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of noise later this year.
  • The Technology in (Spl) Education blog featured many SLP guest posts throughout May in honor of BHSM.
  • The Standford School of Medicine blog Hearing Loss Cure posted a great summary of  more BHSM efforts undertaken by various organizations, and reminded us of the importance of keeping the spirit of BHSM alive throughout the year.

Thanks again to all who commented on the week 1 , week 2 week 3 and week 4 roundup posts–please share any last BHSM blog posts and other resources in the comments.


Maggie McGary is the online community & social media manager at ASHA, and manages ASHAsphere.

Hearing Aid Battery Precautions for Audiologists


Photo by James Bowe

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published an article in the June issue of Pediatrics on the significant increase in pediatric button battery ingestion and resulting serious complications.

The button batteries of greatest concern are the batteries containing lithium. Batteries with lithium can cause severe burns and even death if swallowed. Lithium batteries are often found in remote controls, cameras and other household electronic devices. Two studies highlighted in the article report devastating injuries such as destruction of the wall of the esophagus and trachea and vocal paralysis. Ingested batteries need to be removed within two hours to prevent these medical emergencies.

While hearing aid batteries do not contain lithium, precautions still need to be taken to prevent accidental ingestion. Audiologists should be educating patients and families on battery safety. I remember my grandmother telling me (before I was an audiologist) that she had lined up all her morning pills to take with breakfast and had also lined up a hearing aid battery to remind her to replace the one in her hearing aid. She popped the battery into her mouth along with her medications and swallowed! As an RN she was aware of possible irritation and danger and carefully monitored her digestive system over the next few days. Apparently the battery passed safely through her gastrointestinal tract with no negative effects! This is what happens most of the time when a hearing aid battery is accidentally ingested; however, even zinc-air batteries contain trace amounts of the heavy metal mercury. Poisoning is possible after ingestion if the battery disintegrates and the casing opens.

Beginning in July 2011, some states began requiring all hearing aid batteries to be mercury-free. Mercury is considered an environmental hazard and toxic to our environment when it ends up in a landfill. Check with your state for current regulations and look for batteries that have no mercury.

Along with your hearing aid orientation and battery instructions, here are some additional tips to share with your patients:

  • Seek medical attention right away if a battery has been ingested. Children and pets may exhibit these symptoms: anorexia, nausea, vomiting and very dark stools.
  • Do not dispose of batteries in a fire…they can explode and release toxins.
  • Recycle batteries (Do you as an audiologist have this value-added feature in your practice? If not, Radio Shack will recycle batteries.)
  • Make sure that hearing aids for children are fitted with locking battery doors and activate the locking mechanism at all times when the child is wearing the devices.
  • Alert other family members to secure batteries out of reach of small children.
  • Don’t mistake the battery for a pill!
  • National Battery Ingestion Hotline: 202-625-3333.
  • Batteries in the nose and ear must also be removed quickly and safely to avoid permanent damage.


Interested in Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance? ASHA’s Special Interest Group on Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance’s  mission is to address public health issues related to hearing and balance through a transdisciplinary approach. SIG 8 sponsors continuing education via Perspectives  and short course and panel presentations at the ASHA convention, and SIG members have access to a private group in the ASHA Community for professional discussion and resource sharing. Consider joining SIG 8 today!


Pamela Mason, M.Ed., CCC-A is the director of audiology professional practices at the ASHA national office. She is a member of ASHA’s SIG 8, Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance.

Better Hearing & Speech Month Roundup–Week 4

2012 bhsm drawing winner
First place winner of the 2012 BHSM drawing contest--by Aiza Javaid, age 6

Closing in on the end of Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) and it’s been amazing to see all the online buzz focused on hearing and speech! There have been hundreds of tweets, many blog posts, and equally many Facebook posts highlighting facts about BHSM. Here are just a few  of the many great posts we noticed from this past week:

Also, congratulations to the 2012 BHSM Drawing Contest winners! The drawing above was the first place winner, done by Aiza Javaid, age 6, from Aldie, Virginia.

Thanks to all who commented on the week 1 , week 2  and week 3 roundup posts–please continue to share other BHSM blog posts and other resources in the comments.


Maggie McGary is the online community & social media manager at ASHA, and manages ASHAsphere.

Speech Therapy in Zambia


On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, I departed for Zambia, Africa, where I will work in an orphanage for 10 weeks. I have been to Zambia twice before with the six-week-long Harding University in Zambia speech-language pathology program (HIZ-Path). Through this program, students complete a multicultural study course and gain clinical practicum hours in pediatric speech, language, and dysphagia while working with children ages 0-5 in the three houses of the orphanage. This summer, I will work more closely with the caregivers at the orphanage and stay longer to continue teaching therapy strategies so the work of the HIZ-Path group can become more sustainable. My long-term goal is to begin a training program for speech-language pathologists in Zambia because there are currently no practicing SLPs or SLP training programs, but there is a great need for speech-language professionals. Please follow my trip blog for updates during my trip. I would love to hear your comments, and will be happy to answer any questions.

(The photo above was taken by Elizabeth Anderson, who also attended the HIZ-Path program last year and graduated in May 2012 with a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology.)


Ashley Dowler, M.S., is a recent graduate of the Harding University Master of Speech-Language Pathology program in Searcy, Arkansas, where she graduated with honors and received the Outstanding Graduate Clinician award for the 2010-2011 school year. She has attended the HIZ-Path program twice and completed a research project on the phonetic inventory of Zambian toddlers during the summer of 2011.

Better Hearing & Speech Month Roundup–Week 3

So many Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) posts and so little space to share them all! Thanks to all who commented on the week 1 and week 2 roundup posts–it’s great to see so many actively engaged in promoting BHSM in innovative, fun ways.
Here are just a few of the many posts we’ve seen this past week:
  • Carole Zangari, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is devoting this month’s strategy of the month posts to helping SLPs develop  PrAACtical Learning and Resource Networks.
  • Brenda Gorman, PH.D., CCC-SLP, reminds us that BHSM is a great time to spread the word about the CSD professions, on the Lingua Health blog.
  • The UHS-Pruitt Corporation website devoted this month’s Wellness Tips section to BHSM, focusing on hearing and hearing safety.
  • The National Initiative for Healthcare Quality highlights their infant hearing screening program in recognition and celebration of BHSM.
  • Not a blog post, but last week, Pat Ritter, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Executive Director, The Treatment & Learning Centers and Greg Weimann, MBA, ASHA  Manager of Public Relations, conducted a live online chat for ASHA members that focused on marketing one’s services as part BHSM.  The questions ran the gambit from inquiries about the best ways to reach physicians and other referral sources to questions about starting a new practice, hours of operations, and even how to market an open house. Here’s an except from the chat:

Q: How would you market an open house? What would you suggest having at an open house besides staff/brochures/possible videos?

Greg: For the open house, I would invite the local media. Take pictures if media doesn’t come and send the photos. I would have food, demonstrations, videos and perhaps have patients that you have helped tell their stories.

Pat: Make the open house personal. Have lunch and chat about your services. This is best. You can have the brochures etc. to take away. Think of what you like, conversation, interaction a good feel. Market through flyers, letter and personal calls. We do these and with everyone so busy it is hard to get people to come. Personal invites are best OR give value. Do a one hour workshop that would draw people in and then talk about your practice for 10 minutes.

ASHA members can access the full archive of the online chat here.

Share your blog posts or other resources in the comments and we’ll continue sharing them each Thursday throughout May.

(The poster pictured above was included in the March 13, 2012 issue of the ASHA Leader. For more free BHSM resources like coloring pages, book marks, door hangers and more, visit the BHSM section of the ASHA website.)


Maggie McGary is the online community & social media manager at ASHA, and manages ASHAsphere.