Speech pathology

Almost half of Australia‟s working age population doesn’t have the reading, writing or numeracy skills to effectively participate in their workplace or community, a statistic speech pathologists aim to tackle during Speech Pathology Week.

Speech Pathology Australia National President Christine Stone said that despite our increased use of technology to communicate, literacy skills are still as important as ever.

“Poor literacy skills make it difficult to access an education, find a job and even take part in the community. Research has found that between 7 and 8 million Australians are in danger of being confined to low-wage jobs with little prospect of improvement due to literacy difficulties’.”

“During Speech Pathology Week, we want to encourage people who feel that perhaps their reading or writing skills aren’t what they should be, to take the first step and contact someone who can help – like a speech pathologist,” Ms Stone said.

Being literate means being able to understand and analyse what you read, as well as write in a variety of ways for different purposes, like sending text messages, writing shopping lists, completing forms and sending emails. Literacy difficulties can be due to an underlying communication problem, which then impact on someone’s ability to speak and write clearly.

“Speech pathologists have the specialised knowledge and experience needed to identify communication difficulties and to provide people with the help that they need to build critical language and literacy skills,” Ms Stone said.

Speech pathologists play a vital role in the development of key speaking and listening skills, including awareness of the sounds in words and language comprehension. These skills provide the foundation on which literacy is built.

In the community, speech pathologists often work as important members of literacy support teams. They assess an individual’s speech and language skills, and develop an individualised treatment/training plan that supports and complements other literacy programs.

If you are concerned about a friend of family member who might have literacy or communication difficulties, encourage them to visit a speech pathologist in your area or visit

About Speech Pathology Week 2011 ‘Literacy for Life’:

Speech Pathology Week 2011 (21 – 27 August) celebrates the speech pathology profession and the important role speech pathologists play in acquiring and maintaining literacy skills.

About Speech Pathology Australia

Speech Pathology Australia is the national peak body for more than 4,500 members.

The Association supports and regulates the ethical, clinical and professional standards of its members. The Association also lobbies and advocates for people with communication and swallowing difficulties.

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