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Monday, January 13, 2014, 10:00
Demand for speech therapists on the rise
By Chai Hua in Hong Kong

Demand for speech therapists on the rise

Dr Leung Man-tak, MST program leader and an associate professor at the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies of HKPU.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU) has established a new master program to train professional speech therapists to meet the growing demand of people with speech, language and literacy deficiencies as well as swallowing disorders.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU) has established a new master program to train professional speech therapists to meet the growing demand of people with speech, language and literacy deficiencies as well as swallowing disorders.

Speech therapy is becoming more and more common in developed countries. In the United States, for instance, there are 43.5 ASHA-certified therapists for every 100,000 residents, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) survey in 2012.

It has become one of the hottest professions in the country, said the US Bureau of Labor, which published a set of statistics predicting the enrollment of speech therapist will grow by 23 percent from 2010 to 2020 — faster than average for all occupations.

Hong Kong started a local programme to train the profession about 20 years ago and, currently, there are about 400 active full time speech therapists working in the city (5.7 per 100,000 residents). The demand for speech therapy service, however, is still increasing rapidly, experts say.

To cope with high demand, HKPU in 2013 introduced a new entry level master program — Master of Speech Therapy (MST) — the first of its kind for Hong Kong and the mainland.

“As more speech therapists join the community, they educate the public so that parents know their kids with speech, language and literacy difficulties are not hopeless,” says Dr Leung Man-tak, the program leader and an associate professor at the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies.

“With increased public awareness, more families are seeking professional help. They want to know not only how their children can survive in society, but also how to have a quality life.”

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