In 2016, the NAA conducted a study on what the general public knows about aphasia. Are they, as we were asking, “aphasia aware?” Now, in 2020, we repeated the survey to get up-to-date information on aphasia awareness.
Understanding aphasia makes a difference, especially when people are navigating the outside world. Ideally, you would be able to show your aphasia ID card or tell someone that you have aphasia, and they would communicate in a way that is aphasia-friendly, such as asking yes/no questions or using multiple communication methods at the same time.
Not enough people know about aphasia.
We surveyed 1,001 respondents. All were over 25 years old and living in the United States. 86.2% of people stated that they never heard the term “aphasia.” This lack of understanding makes it harder for the aphasia community to interact with the general public. It also highlights the importance of aphasia education and communication instruction for people without aphasia.
Who Is Aphasia Aware?
At the same time, 7% of Americans have both heard of aphasia and can identify it as a language disorder. We’re calling these people “aphasia aware.” Another 6.8% had heard of aphasia but didn’t know what it was.
This is where it gets interesting: In 2016, we found that 34.7% of the people who were aphasia aware knew about aphasia because they had a personal connection to aphasia. Yet in 2020, only 29.5% of those with aphasia awareness knew about it due to a personal connection.
This means more people are learning about aphasia who do not have a personal connection. In other words, they’ve seen television shows such as Blacklist that have an aphasia storyline or read about celebrities such as Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones or Terry Jones from Monty Python who have both used their platform to educate the world about aphasia.
Aphasia in Popular Culture
13.8% of people recall first hearing about aphasia from a television or movie. Other sources for hearing about aphasia are school or work. The word cloud below details places where people have learned about aphasia.
What do these survey results mean? First and foremost, we still have a lot of work to do to educate the general public about aphasia. We’re all going to pitch in and do that in June with Aphasia Awareness Month.
At the same time, we need to recognize the advances we’ve made in spreading aphasia awareness in the last four years. All the times you participate in Aphasia Awareness Month activities, post about aphasia on social media, or tell your aphasia story makes a difference.
Click over to see the complete survey results. There is a lot to learn from the data.