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Speech Pathology and Audiology

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 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. Personal Skills: 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. 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. Personal Skills: 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.

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