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WHEREAS, Better Hearing and Speech Month was first recognized by President Ronald Reagan on May 21, 1986; and
WHEREAS, approximately 15% of adults aged 18 and older report some trouble hearing, at least 33% of adults aged 65-74, and an estimated 17 million adults experience difficulty speaking; and
WHEREAS, about 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from the use of hearing aids and/or assistive technology, but less than 30% of them has ever used hearing aids, and many people with difficulty speaking do not seek treatment; and
WHEREAS, undetected hearing loss in young children can result in language deprivation which can have lasting negative impacts on their social, emotional, and academic development and success; and
WHEREAS, hearing loss can be prevented through the use of noise canceling earphones or earplugs and reducing noise exposure, and can be detected through hearing screenings; and
WHEREAS, despite communication challenges, individuals who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or who have difficulty speaking are successful and productive residents who contribute to the economic well-being and social fabric of Virginia; and
WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance for Virginians with hearing loss to be aware of public health information, and the wearing of face coverings or masks has caused many of them to realize their own extraordinary communication challenges; and
WHEREAS, the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is dedicated to raising awareness to these issues;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize May 2021 as BETTER HEARING AND SPEECH MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.