Value of the Ability to Communicate

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What is the value of the ability to communicate?

There is of course no universal answer to this question, because it will depend on what is important to each particular person. Interestingly though, in 1995, a 31-year old woman underwent a routine biopsy at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. During this procedure, a nerve was severed and the woman sustained permanent damage to her speech and swallowing abilities. A Florida jury decided that such a devastating disability was worth $4.8 million in compensation! Of course, when you think of the implications of a communication disorder on academic and vocational success, not to mention just the ability to interact on a social basis, perhaps $4.8 million is on the low side. Obviously not many of us have $5 million to spend on improving our speaking, understanding, reading and writing! Many insurance plans only cover $500 per year, so you will need to be prepared to cover the rest yourself. So what would be reasonable to spend? To help you make the decision, here is a list of the costs of various products and services that people may need or want to purchase:


Services priced by the hour:

Lawn Aeration
$135 / hour
Dump Truck & Operator
$100 / hour
Backhoe & Operator
$150 / hour
$45 – $75 / 30 minutes
$40 / 15 minutes
$250 – $700 / hour
$250 / hour
Computer Consultant
$100 – $150 / hour
$100 – $150 / hour
IPL Laser Treatment
$400 / hour

Other Products / Services
Big Screen Television
$2,000 – $5,000
One Week in Mexico
$1,500 – $3,000
Buying lunch 5 days/week, 48 weeks per year
Dental Implants
$5,000 – $10,000
Braces / Orthodontics
$3,000 – $7,000
Face lift
$10,000 – $15,000
Replacement Windows
$2,000 – $20,000
8 weeks of YMCA summer camp
Bathroom Renovation
$2,000 – $15,000
Double Garage Doors
$1,500 – $3,000
Golf Club Membership
$2,500 – $20,000
Diamond Engagement Ring
$1,000 – $8,000
$7,000 – $20,000
Computer with Software
Eavestrough Cleaning
Fertility treatments
International Adoption
Sofa & Loveseat
$1,600 – $4,000
$10,000 – $20,000
Some of these items last a lifetime, some only a few years, some even less. So what is the value of the ability to communicate, a skill that lasts a lifetime and opens doors to social, academic and vocational success? The diamond industry suggests that two months’ salary is what should be spent on an engagement ring. Is the ability to communicate at least as valuable as a diamond ring? Only you have the answer. Deciding what to spend on speech-language therapy is always a personal decision.