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World Voice Day 2016

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March 16, 2016
by Robert T. Sataloff, MD, DMA, FACS, Editor-in-Chief

Annually this editorial reminds us of the April 16th celebration of World Voice Day. The editorial is published before World Voice Day to give people not already involved in World Voice Day time to plan an event. All physicians who care for voice patients should participate in this international celebration, ideally in collaboration with speech-language pathologists, singing and acting teachers, and voice patients.

The World Health Organization recognized a particularly high rate of laryngeal cancer in Brazil. In April 1989, Brazilian otolaryngologists established a National Voice Week. Soon, other societies around the world recognized the importance of public education about the voice, and the European Laryngological Association (, American Bronchoesophagological Association (, and other societies began collaborating in World Voice Day recognition.

World Voice Day was celebrated in the United States for the first time on April 16, 2003. It was supported by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) (, the Voice Foundation (, the American Laryngological Association (, and numerous other societies and organizations. A summary of the evolution of World Voice Day can be found on the AAO-HNS website.

Typical World Voice Day activities include lectures, concerts, educational programs, and media events scheduled to take place on April 16th. Web-based educational initiatives may be found through the AAO-HNS website and elsewhere. Laryngologists, speech-language pathologists, nurses, singers, singing teachers, actors, acting teachers, and others organize celebratory events in cities throughout the world. They are bound together by a commitment to expand public appreciation of and knowledge about the human voice, and to raise awareness about the importance of good vocal health and education.

For example, in Philadelphia in 2016, World Voice Day events will include free clinical voice screenings, a concert at the Academy of Vocal Arts, a PECO Crown Lights display visible throughout much of the city, and voice education presentations.

Extensive events honoring World Voice Day take place each year in Lisbon, Portugal, under the auspices of Professor Mario Andrea; in the Detroit area under the guidance of Dr. Adam Rubin; in Pittsburgh with Drs. Clark Rosen and Libby Smith; in Atlanta under the guidance of Dr. Michael Johns; and in many other cities. In addition, the National Association of Teachers of Singing supports World Voice Day actively, and many events around the country are organized by singing teachers.

Future activities promise to be even more expansive as guided through a new ad hoc World Voice Day planning committee with broad international representation. The group's initial meeting was in Erlangen, Germany, on July 4, 2012; and it is committed to sharing the excitement of voice science, pedagogy, and the vocal arts globally in collaboration with like-minded existing groups. Under the guidance of Johan Sundberg, PhD, in Stockholm, Sweden, this group documented 461 World Voice Day events in 2014 and 620 in 2015.

The website is functioning as a historical and current repository of World Voice Day events globally with pivotal key personnel in 65 countries, and major organizations (including AAO-HNS and The Voice Foundation) are collaborating with that initiative.

The AAO-HNS has developed a website, fact sheets on common voice problems, and materials for press releases to assist local communities in developing Word Voice Day events. These materials are updated regularly and are available through the Academy. The Academy also establishes annual World Voice Day themes for the American celebration. In the past, these have included “Listen to your voice, it might be telling you something”; “Put your best voice forward”; “Don't tax your voice”; “Invest in your voice”; “Love your voice”; “Voice: The Original Social Media”; and others. The 2016 themes is “Explore your voice.”

World Voice Day offers all of us opportunities to collaborate with colleagues in speech-language pathology, singing, acting, public speaking, nursing education, the media, and other endeavors. Vocal health is critical to our ability to function in today's communication-oriented society, but the voice does not receive the public recognition, appreciation, or funding it deserves. World Voice Day offers us a perfect forum through which we can refamiliarize ourselves with the latest advances in laryngology and voice care, and educate our colleagues, patients, and communities through lectures, free voice screenings, community outreach programs, and other initiatives.

The past few decades have seen remarkable advances in voice diagnosis and treatment that have raised the standard of care for all voice patients. World Voice Day is an ideal time to highlight these advances and to educate the public about the current state of the art in voice care. All otolaryngologists, speech-language pathologists, otolaryngologic nurses, singing and acting teachers, performers, and patients are encouraged to participate in this important international celebration.

Ear, Nose & Throat Journal
Ear Nose Throat J. 2016 March;95(3):92-95