Communication is fundamental.

United in support of the human, civil, and legal rights of non-speakers to choose their most effective methods of communication.

Devoted to

Defending Basic Human Rights

Some seek to prevent children and adults with disabilities from accessing their preferred and only effective means of communication—access that is essential to dignity, education, inclusion, independence, and self-determination.

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Read the coalition letter sent by national civil rights and disability advocacy organizations to the Board of Directors of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) expressing concern about ASHA’s statements to limit access to communication for individuals who lack reliable speech.

Learn more about the flawed and dangerous ASHA statements here

The ASHA Position Statement on the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM), released August 8, 2018, made five references to a study that was subsequently retracted. Click here to learn more about the study. Click here to read our September 6, 2018 letter to ASHA expressing concerns about the ethical violations.

United for Communication Choice is a grassroots effort organized by individuals with disabilities, their families, and allies to defend and protect the human, civil, and legal rights of children and adults with disabilities to choose their most effective methods of communication. Join us and support our efforts to protect these fundamental rights.

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Facts

Learn more about the flawed ASHA statements. Get the Facts.

Evidence

Review the substantial research that supports these AAC training methods.

Resource Center

Faith, Hope, and Love…With Autism, written by Philip Reyes, details his journey to open communication through the RPM method. Philip discusses his personal experiences and autism, as well as issues pertaining to the autistic and non-speaking community at large.

“Cutting off access to one form of communication, in the absence of other methods that are equally effective for that individual, is unethical and harmful. Although we agree that far too many non-speaking people have not been offered communication supports that are evidence-based and effective, taking away communication options is not the answer.”

– Autistic Self Advocacy Network, July 2, 2018

Deej
Nominated for an Emmy

Autism: The Movement Perspective 
Torres, E.B., & Donnellan, A.M., eds. (2013-2015)
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience

Compiles 38 peer-reviewed articles published by 91 authors between 2013 and 2015 that support the idea that movement and sensory differences are core features of autism.

A screenshot of Damon Kirsebom from the video "When People See Me Typing"

Damon Kirsebom, “When People See Me Typing”

June 11, 2018

In this video, a 17-year-old British Columbia resident Damon Kirsebom types the following: “When people see me typing, they always realize I am really authentically expressing my own thoughts. No tricks here, people.”

Quote

“My special education teachers should have taught me typing instead of trying to restrict me to the dozen picture icons they decided I needed. Of course, other autism issues such as sensory dysregulation can make the act of typing itself hard. I am still a one-finger typer for the most part, and it took me a really long time to type out this one article.”

– Hari Srinivasan
University of California Berkeley student, “The Communication Conundrum,” in The Daily Cal, February 15, 2018

Public entities shall “ensure that communications with [individuals] with disabilities are as effective as communications with others”

28 C.F.R. § 35.160(a)(1)

What Others Are Saying

“I am irate over the notion of a committee of non-experts is trying to take away this form of communication. It seems like a personal vendetta, to be honest. I can’t understand what their motivation is except to stifle the voices of people with disabilities. This is where we are presently: the able-bodied deciding what’s best for us. I say enough to that historic oppression – your biases aren’t fooling anyone.”

Niko Boskovic, Oregon

“Being able to spell on a letter board has opened the world to her. She plans to attend college. She writes poetry. She is developing relationships – finally – with friends and family for the first time, at age 13.”

Jessica Aysseh, Connecticut

“All 3 [CCC-SLPs] communicated with [our daughter] and documented in writing not only that [she] is spelling completely independent of influence, but clearly possesses language skills that exceed her chronological age. If ASHA had already condemned RPM as a teaching methodology, these specialists would likely never have given [her] a chance to even communicate with them.”

Jessica Aysseh, Connecticut

“Too often, the failed autistic speaker is blamed for the failure to speak because he is labeled as being too low functioning, too lazy, or too dumb to advance. And the speech therapist is off the hook for failing to made headway in communication with the non-speaking student since he’s written off as being low functioning, lazy, or dumb.”

Ido Kedar, California

“I would welcome any of these committee members into my home to see my daughter communicating. I cannot imagine anyone interacting with my daughter in person would want to then deny her the ability to spell her thoughts.  I cannot imagine anyone wanting to sentence her to a life of touching teacher-chosen buttons on an app that only addresses her basic needs after they witnessed her describing her thoughts, desires, fears, and poetic voice.  Please – anyone from ASHA – come meet her.”

Jessica Aysseh, Connecticut

“It is beyond my comprehension that a body that is supposed to represent speech language pathologists would attempt to silence the voices of people who have fought so hard to find them.”

Tracy Gunn, Speech-Language Pathologist, South Africa

“The civil rights of individuals with disabilities need to be upheld and they should have a choice of and access to their desired communication method.”

Linda Tino, Pennsylvania

“Too often, the failed autistic speaker is blamed for the failure to speak because he is labeled as being too low functioning, too lazy, or too dumb to advance. And the speech therapist is off the hook for failing to made headway in communication with the non-speaking student since he’s written off as being low functioning, lazy, or dumb.”

Ido Kedar, California

“It is a true Copernican revolution, a radical change of point of view: to try to realize that what appears to be of a behavioral nature (gestures, attitudes, etc.) returns to motor and sensory disorders. And so change your attitude towards these silent fighters.”

Laurence Le Blet, France

“I cannot understand taking away human rights for individuals that have had a lifetime of pain already.”

Jason Morris, Alabama

“We’ll never learn if we are afraid of scrutiny and progress. Your position statement will prevent the freedom and flow of research needed to learn more about why and when it works and why it sometimes cannot be easily demonstrated. Your former policy statement did include precautions. But this new one is nothing short of a violation of civil rights.”

Maryland Parent

“Keep ASHA on the right side of history. Non-speaking does not equal non-thinking.”

Vaish Sarathy, Oregon

“We beseech the higher aspirations of the thousands of kind speech therapists to rise up and speak up and reject this abhorrent, humanity-depriving point of view.”  

Killian Hynes, California

“Three individuals from the school district have also come to observe his sessions and have agreed that he can communicate to a far greater extent using this method than any of the many tried previously (PECS, ProLoQuo2Go, and many years of both standard speech therapy and Verbal Behavior/ABA).”

Jennifer Binder-Le Pape, Pennsylvania

“I am a Speech Language Pathologist working in South Africa. My clientele consists primarily of non-speaking and minimally speaking autistic children. I felt compelled to respond to your review proposal as decisions reached in the USA usually have ripple effects around the world, and I am horrified by the thought of the type of thinking reflected in this peer review proposal coming to my country.”

Tracy Gunn, Speech-Language Pathologist, South Africa

“We tried every known means of communication, with little to no success before using Facilitated Communication. And we are still open to the use of every means. Granted, it is not a perfect method, but neither is speech, writing, signing, etc., nor is influence absent from any.”

Maryland Parent

“You review the existing research and find it not well-designed enough to support the conclusion that the individuals with disabilities are communicating their own thoughts. However, by definition, if the research is not well-designed, you cannot draw ANY conclusion from the findings, including that the thoughts are NOT those of the individuals with disabilities. Your assertions that the communication is not authentic is unsupported by evidence.”

Jennifer Binder-Le Pape, Pennsylvania

“When I was growing up, speaking was so frustrating. I could see the words in my brain, but then I realized that making my mouth move [was needed to] get those letters to come alive, they died as soon as they were born. What made me feel angry was to know that I knew exactly what I was to say and my brain was retreating in defeat.”

Jamie Burke, New York

“It is the position of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) that communication is the essence of human life and that all people have the right to communicate to the fullest extent possible. No individuals should be denied this right, irrespective of the type and/or severity of communication, linguistic, social, cognitive, motor, sensory, perceptual, and/or other disability(ies) they may present.”

ASHA Position Statement on AAC, PS2005-00113 (approved 2005, rescinded August 2017)

“My life as an AAC user is at stake here.  More importantly others who are still in the silent abyss will never make it out.”

Chandima (“Chammi”) Rajapatirana, Sri Lanka

“Thinking of all those individuals condemned to silence by this move makes me spitting mad and beyond sorrowful.”

Anoja Rajapatirana, Sri Lanka

“When Anne Sullivan started teaching Helen Keller by spelling on her hand, there was no scientific proof of this method. If she was teaching today she would be shunned via positions such as this and prevented from teaching.”

Kevin & Loretta McMahon, Virginia

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