To train the next generation of speech and language Pathologists and Audiologists (SLPA) who will be able to help millions of people suffering from communication problems due to hearing loss, autism, stuttering, loss of speech due to stroke and voice problems, a four-year undergraduate programme has been introduced. This course named Bachelors in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology (BASLP) which includes one year of internship is offered by various government and private colleges.
What is SLPA
This is a scientific discipline was launched in India 55 years ago. “Audiology is the science of hearing and its disorders and speech language pathology. It helps those troubled by human communication and its disorders,” says Radhika Poovayya, founder director, Samvaad Institute of Speech and Hearing, Bangalore.
Role in the healthcare system
It plays vital role in the health care system for two reasons, says Poovayya. One, many communication problems are caused by medical conditions or they co-exist with them. Two, the ability to communicate effectively adds immensely to the quality of life and a good health care system ought to address QOL issues.
“Currently, close to 6% of Indian population are suffering from deafness and almost same number in the world. The role of audiologists is vital in early detection of deafness through Early Hearing and Detection Intervention programme (EHDI) among new born,” says Dr Amitabh Malik, chief, ENT department, Paras Hospital, Gurugram.
“Audiology is a very vast thing and not an easy science. Aspirants need to understand intricacy of all tests, and develop deep understanding of the subject. Despite having a prominent role in the healthcare system, very few audiologists are learning ways to diagnose the illness rather they are more focused on dispensing hearing aids,” says Dr Malik. He adds that, however, the perception has changed and youngsters are taking up this course. “These experts have equal and important role to play in the healthcare system.”
Dr Malik calls for curriculum to be pushed more towards diagnostic rather than dispensing of hearing aids.
Importance of programme
Emphasising on the need to have more trained SLPAs, Poovayya, says as per data available, around 50 million people need the services of speech pathologists and audiologists. “Currently, India has only around 5000 SLPAs. It is essential to train many more,” she adds.
Students enrolled with the programme are taught basic anatomy and physiology of the systems responsible for speech and hearing. “The course teaches measurement of hearing, diagnosis of various hearing disorders, evaluation of various communication disorders such as stuttering, misarticulation, developmental speech language disorders, their treatment, measurement and control of noise, amplification devices, swallowing evaluation and their treatment, research methods and statistics and even psychology,” she adds.
Admission and eligibility
It is a merit-based admission. Candidates must have studied Physics, Chemistry Biology and Math and secured atleast 50% marks in class XII level. Additionally, the candidate must have good interpersonal and communication skills, with enough patience and passion to serve those with special needs.
Candidates gaining expertise in this field can hope to have good career opportunities in both government and private sectors. “Every hospital is required to employ SLPAs. The audiologists work closely with the ENT doctors and a speech language pathologist works closely with a child specialist, psychologist and neurologist,” Poovayya explains.
Private practices, entrepreneurship by setting up a private practice in hearing care and/or speech therapy are also among other options.
“Schools having an integrated set for children with special needs also deploy speech language pathologist. There are jobs in training institutes too. Additionally, research is also another option. With increasing focus on communication in all spheres, including the corporate world, SLPAs have a bright future.”
In the initial years of the profession students made a beeline to the US which beckoned with job prospects. Now, Australia, Europe, Middle East, and many other parts of the world offer plenty of higher education, research, and job opportunities in this field.
Students are offered jobs in health care set ups, hospitals, hearing aid companies, NGOs, training institutes, schools, speech therapy clinics, child development clinics, hearing care clinics are major sectors where students get employment opportunities.
List of colleges offering BASLAP
All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore
National Institute of Speech and Hearing, Kerala
Manipal College of Health Professions
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham
Source From : Times Of India