Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Communication and Civil Rights

Access to dynamic communication (language) systems is a matter of civil rights. Augmentative and Alternative Communication should not be seen as a service we provide, but rather as a duty in facilitating the civil rights of those who do not currently have the dominant voice in our culture.  The provision of such systems is a high priority in the field and supports the emancipation of those with limited voice, power, and independence who must function within a social structure that has been designed for the more typically abled.  There has been progress to become more inclusive and to recognize in full, alternatives to spoken language. Giving voice to those who may be limited by the dominant culture is an issue of social justice. Stop and think, is it possible to count all of the words in your mind? Could you even right them all down? Yes, you have access to an almost unlimited vocabulary that is always expanding but invisible to others until you convey your thoughts.  People who use AAC must have similar access to language. Think about if all you could communicate was printed on a series of pages in front of you.  Think about how it would feel if you were not allowed to have new words until you met criteria on the old ones; criteria that were set by other people and not necessarily measured in an effective manner.  We have to advocate strongly, relentlessly and without apology. Would it ever be acceptable to make a typically developing child wait to speak until a team decided they were ready to use certain words, or until there was enough money in the budget to provide the words? This is what we do all the time. It is time to change our policies and practices to reflect a more inclusive direction. Below is a video that was shared with me highlighting some of these points.

The text of the video is transcribed here: Henry Frost


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