Introduction: – Speech Pathology and Audiology are allied health careers where the professionals are qualified by special training, education, skills and experience to provide health care service and treatment. While the field is an allied health field, the practitioners are not physicians but rather known specifically as speech pathologists and audiologists. Speech language pathology and audiology are distinct disciplines, but are so interrelated that to be fully competent in either, one should be familiar with both. Both deal with speech, language and hearing impairments that disrupt the ability of the sufferer to communicate and interact in various social situations.
Speech language pathologists and audiologists are concerned with the prevention, identification and rehabilitation of children and adults with communication disorders and hearing impairment. Audiologists examine people of all ages and identify symptoms of hearing loss, auditory, balance and related sensory and neural problems. They use specialized equipments like audiometers, computers and other testing devices to evaluate and estimate the impact of auditory and balance problems on the client’s daily life. Audiologists then use the results from these tests to prepare a diagnosis and design a course of treatment by using remedial measures and rehabilitation strategies depending on what the situation demands.
Speech therapists or speech language pathologists work with people who have speech disorders like inability to produce sounds, speech rhythm and fluency problems and also people who have swallowing disorders due to problems like cleft palate or other medical conditions which may be congenital, developmental or acquired. Speech language pathologists’ work involves assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of speech-related disorders, designing and employment of augmentative and alternative communication methods. Sometimes they also need to counsel and advise patients and their family to deal with speech disorders and situations arising because of them and alleviate stress and misunderstanding.
In India, the first Audiology & Speech Language Therapy program was started in 1966 at T.N.Medical College and BYL Nair Charitable Hospital in Mumbai. The Government of India established All India Institute of Speech and Hearing in 1966 at Mysore. Today this institute is the country’s leading institute in the field of communication disorders. There are about 20 universities in India which provide Speech Pathology & Audiology programs which are accredited by Rehabilitation Council of India.
The job titles for professionals working in this field include Audiologist, Program Director, Rehabilitation Counselor, Sign Language Interpreter, Language Specialist, Linguist, Speech Pathologist etc. These professions provide essential services to people of all ages and backgrounds in developing the vital human skill – communication. They offer a variety of specialization opportunities, challenges and have relevance to daily living. As these professionals help people make their lives more productive and richer by improving people’s communication skills their career is well respected and gives an opportunity to make a difference in other people’s life.
Eligibility & Course Areas :-
To practice audiology, professionals need to have either Bachelors/Masters degree in Audiology and be registered with Indian Speech and Hearing Association (ISHA) or Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI).
For undergraduate courses the applicants should have passed the pre-university course or 10+2 from a recognised institution with science subjects – Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics. The duration for an undergraduate course is 3 to 4 years. The various universities may grant admissions either on the basis of marks of the 10+2 course or they may conduct specific entrance tests to gauge the merit and aptitude of the aspirants.
Admission to the 2 year post graduate courses requires a graduation in speech language pathology and audiology. Besides the undergraduate/ post graduate courses, several institutes offer diploma courses of varying durations.
Course Areas :
University courses in speech language pathology and audiology include acoustics, anatomy, assessment, counseling, hearing disorders, hearing aids, language development and disorders, linguistics, neurology and neurophysiology, nonvocal communication, parent training, psychology, phonetics, speech disorders, statistics, stuttering, voice and voice disorders, and a variety of specific areas (e.g., autism). The courses and clinical practice cover the development, disorders, and the training or retraining of human communication in all its aspects.
The job is not physically demanding but is emotionally demanding. The professionals must be able to approach problems objectively and provide support to patients and their families. Because a patient’s progress may be slow, patience, compassion, and good listening skills are necessary. They must have exceptional skills in observation, concentration, and record keeping. Audiologists should be able to effectively communicate diagnostic test results, interpretation, and proposed treatment in a manner easily understood by their patients, relatives and other staff.
Job Prospects & Career Options :-
Audiologic treatment may include examining and cleaning the ear canal, fitting and dispensing hearing aids, and fitting and programming cochlear implants. It also includes counseling on adjusting to hearing loss, training on the use of hearing instruments, and teaching communication strategies for use in a variety of environments.
Audiologists keep records on the initial evaluation, progress, and discharge of patients. In other settings, audiologists may work with other health and education providers as part of a team in planning and implementing services for children and adults, from birth to old age. Some audiologists specialize in work with the elderly, children, or hearing-impaired individuals who need special treatment programs. Others develop and implement ways to protect workers’ hearing from on-the-job injuries. They measure noise levels in workplaces and conduct hearing protection programs in factories, as well as in schools and communities. A few audiologists conduct research on types as well as treatment for hearing, balance, and related disorders.
The job of a speech therapist includes diagnosing communication disorders and swallowing disorders. Planning and implementing treatment in language, speech, voice and swallowing disorders. Educating and counseling individuals, families, co-workers, educators, and other persons in the community regarding acceptance, adaptation, and decision making about communication, swallowing, or other upper aero digestive concerns.
Certified Speech Language Pathology and Audiology professionals can find employment in Hospitals, Rehabilitation Centers , Nursing Care Facilities , Industry , Home Health Agencies , Long-term Care Facilities, Research Labs, Centers for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, Public or Private Schools, Private Practice, Community Clinics, College/University Clinics, Health Department, State or Government Agencies, Adult Day Care Facilities and Business.
The starting salary for speech pathologist and audiologist is around Rs 8000/- per month initially and may go upto Rs 12000/-. The gross emoluments may sum upto Rs15,000- Rs20,000 per month.
Those in the teaching field may earn between Rs 9000-Rs.15,000 per month. For lecturers the pay scale lies between 14000-18000 and the gross emoluments may go upto Rs25,000 per month.
Some of the prominent courses in speech pathology and audiology can be had from the following links.
» B.Sc. Hearing, Language and Speech
» B.Sc. Speech and Hearing
» B.Sc. Audiology and Speech Rehabilitation (B.Sc. ASR)
» Bachelor in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology (B.A.S.L.P)
» Bachelor of Speech Pathology and Audiology
» Diploma in Hearing, Language and Speech (DHLS)
» M.Sc. Hearing, Language and Speech
» M.Sc. Speech and Hearing
» Master in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology (MASLP)