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Education Plus

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Speech therapy and audiology

From the current academic year, the Madras ENT Research Foundation will offer a four-year undergraduate course in speech and language pathology — BASLP (Bachelor in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology).

The programme includes a year-long internship. The Foundation will also offer a Master in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology. A postgraduate diploma in auditory rehabilitation, and an advanced course in audiology for ENT are also being offered.

The courses are approved by the Rehabilitation Council of India and affiliated to Annamalai University. The eligibility for the courses is a pass in Class XII science stream. Each batch will have 20 students.

Speech and language pathologists are professionals concerned with evaluation, treatment, prevention and research in human communication and its disorders. They treat and manage speech and language disorders and work with individuals of all ages.

According to ENT doctors, though speech therapists are appointed at a good salary in private institutions, they resign for better prospects abroad. “I have been trying to find an audiologist or speech therapist for Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital for several months now. They are here for just for 10 or 15 days and then they go abroad,” says ENT surgeon D. Balakrishnan, a consultant with the hospital.“Currently, we have a makeshift arrangement where audiometry technicians are being given an option to take up a crash course for six months and they will be operating the machines for investigation purposes. The patients will then be referred to ENT doctors who will interpret the test results,” said C. Jacinth, State Nodal Officer for National Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness.

Dr. Balakrishnan says similar courses offered in other parts of the country have been well-received. According to retired speech therapist S. Manoharan, who was also formerly the president of the Indian Society of Audiology, around four to five per cent of the population (including the elderly) require therapists.

According to Medical Council of India norms, he says, all institutions, wherever they establish new colleges, should have speech and audiology therapists. The colleges should have one audiologist and speech pathologist as a minimum requirement.

R. SUJATHA

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