The Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences will celebrate World Voice Day 2015 by sponsoring free vocal education as well as hearing and vocal screenings.

Jennifer Romero, a speech-language pathologist and clinical instructor, said World Voice Day is important because it provides education about vocal hygiene.

Vocal chords, she said, are essential to everyday living and quality of life.

“Really, your voice is a big foundation to communication,” Romero said.

During the day undergraduate students can observe graduate students conducting speech and hearing screenings, she said.

“Being a graduate student, it is just a wonderful experience to know you’re helping these people become educated about how to take care of their voice and kind of give them a feel about the kinds of things they can do to help ensure a positive quality of life,” Romero said.

The education component of World Voice Day is brief, but it is individualized based on the patient.

Many professors and student athletes like cheerleaders visit the SHS in order to ensure vocal health, she said.

Kate Blaker, a clinic instructor and senior lecturer for SHS, said many professions rely on a healthy voice. Warming up the voice before giving a speech or teaching a class by singing notes and shoulder shrugs is important, she said.

“We always talk about brushing our teeth and, you know exercising and keeping healthy, but not a lot of people know about keeping voice healthy,” Blaker said.

Drinking lots of water, not smoking, having good breath support and talking at optimal pitch are also important, she said.

If someone is not talking at optimal pitch, the voice quality may change over time or someone could develop vocal nodules, she said. Allergies can also be an irritant, but drinking plenty of fluids and not overtaxing the voice will help, she said.

Jennifer Hanson, a speech-language pathologist and lecturer for SHS, said graduate students are required to do 400 clinical-clock hours where they work with patients including children and adults with a variety of communication disorders.

“A lot of people have voice disorders and may not know that they do, or why they can’t rely on their voice, and so World Voice Day brings awareness to that and really just promotes communication in general,” Hanson said.

She said graduate students are really appreciative of the opportunity at the clinic.

“In a very functional way it allows them to get valuable experience and fulfill some of their graduation requirements as well,” Hanson said.

World Voice Day is a great experience for graduate students because it is intense. However, the students will better understand protocols, potential disorders, forms of communication and the referral process, she said.

There are about 20 graduate students and some undergraduate students participating in World Voice Day, along with 40 to 50 clients signed up for the screenings.

Lauren Marvin is the culture editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at culture or on Twitter