• Rebecca Bright

This is my voice, please don't remove it

Guest blog from @ImAnAutie

Ever had a moment where you have something on the tip of your tongue but you can’t quite think of the right words?

Think of the frustration that comes with that. It’s unpleasant, isn’t it? Now try imagining you have the exact words you want to say but you just can’t because someone has Taped your mouth shut. I think we can all agree that gagging someone, preventing them from speaking, is really not an OK thing to do - Yet this is exactly what routinely happens to AAC users when people remove their access to AAC for however long it may be, it is drastically reducing their ability to communicate efficiently. Sometimes it’s as simple as not being flexible in certain procedures around electronic devices and treating AAC devices like they are toy’s (they aren’t), other times it’s seemingly actively trying to silence disabled people for speaking out about certain things. People do not understand the emotional impact that comes about when someone takes your voice away from you, it’s hard to put into words but “Scary”, “Terrifying” and “painful” comes to mind when you have no efficient way to communicate. Contrary to the belief of some people it isn’t just “please be quiet for a bit” but a whole ordeal that has a toll on the disabled person they just shouldn’t deal with.

It makes us feel like what we have to say isn’t important or valuable, we aren’t welcome and can’t be true to who we are. And that just sucks. I’ve had this exact situation come up a lot this year when visiting a major visitor attraction here in England with them attempting to remove my device from me, and I think it stems from a lack of understanding. It’s taken a LOT of effort and me being a very noisy disabled to get this issue mostly resolved, but I still don’t think they understand the issue, so I fully expect any of my fellow AAC users visiting this attraction to have the exact same issues. @ImAnAutie

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