May 182014
 

Disabled people have long been oppressed by professionals saying they’re acting in our ‘best interests’ as an excuse to maintain their own interests. One of the latest is their ‘take’ on facilitated communication, used by many across the world to express their voice if they do not have speech. FC is the use of a keyboard on which the user types what they want to say see the great piece written by the brilliant Quiet Riot

FC device being used to buy ice cream

communication board in hand doing ordinary things like buying an ice cream. This does not require a “transition plan” or “a service delivery audit” Or a specialist training programme to create a team of ” Whippy Therapist”

Some claim FC is incorrect and shouldn’t be used. DPAC fundamentally disagrees and fully supports FC. But, of course keeping people voiceless is much more profitable for ‘professionals’, charities and other groups whose livelihoods and/or donations often depend on our oppression and on keeping us powerless and silent. This has been evident throughout disabled peoples’ history.

Imagine the loss of contracts, work they get to psycho – analyse us. The lesser need for speech therapists, researchers, psychologists, service providers and academics,and the drop in donations to pay top salaries to their charity directors if we develop our own challenging voices-of course its in their interests to deny any method that empowers our voice if it renders them obsolete!

All those denying our voices through which ever means we chose to express them are violating our human rights as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (UNCRPD) which argues we have a right to use any method we chose for communication including FC and that this should be respected and accepted. But in the so called disability business (i.e those who make money from us and from maintaining our oppression) profit speaks louder than human rights.

Please see below to find out how this can happen when the vested interests of ‘professional power attempts to overturn human rights…….

The ISAAC attack on the Communication used by Increasing numbers of Disabled People.

The International Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) released a “Position Statement” on facilitated communication (FC) on 23rd April 2014 to its international membership.

Along with theposition statement on FC, ISAAC finally issued the identities of the ad hoc committee, who were selected to deliver the statement. The majority of the committee had publicly condemned FC prior to joining the committee. Therefore, the condemnation of FC following their deliberations was the expected outcome.

The ISAAC ad hoc committee used flawed methodologies, collected biased data to support an unexplained hypothesis and cited highly selective references to create a spurious position statement on FC.

However, most significantly the committee refused to consult with disabled people who use FC. ISAAC had identified just one disabled person who was a member of this committee but this person did not use FC.

The remainder of the committee were Speech Therapists, Researchers, Psychologists, and Academics. There was no representation of people using the communication they were writing a “position statement” on. Such oppressive practice has no place in an organisation established supposedly to support a persons right to communication.

Rosemary Crossley (the founder of FC) alongside many disabled people using FC, had made many, well received presentations to large audiences at ISAAC events. Now following the work of the ad hoc committee FC, as a method of communication for increasing numbers of disabled people, has been dismissed as invalid.

This outcome appears to have been contrived to protect the power of professionals and academics whilst ignoring the rights of communication for disabled people using FC .

ISAAC have not established committees to create position statements on other alternative means of communication accepted within ISAAC ; Picture Exchange Communication System.(PECS), Rapid Prompt Method (RPM). This is another indication of the deliberate attempt to isolate and devalue FC by a group of professionals and academics whose status and “expertise” is seriously challenged by the authentic voice of disabled people.

Such an approach by ISAAC management requires the subjugation and acquiescence of disabled people and is an abuse of professional power.

This abuse of power and from professionals is being seriously challenged by large numbers of disabled people and their allies. Similar resistance to protect academic vested interests was used to stop the introduction of sign language and Braille and it took major struggle from Deaf and Blind people with their allies to overcome such oppressive practice.

ISAAC and it’s associated chapters state that:

The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) works to improve the lives of children and adults who use AAC. (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). ISAACs vision is that AAC will be ! recognized, valued and used throughout the world. ISAACs mission is to promote the best possible communication for people with complex communication needs.

 By dismissing a valued means of communication ISAAC management are devaluing hundreds of their members and in doing so fundamentally undermine the ISAAC  mission statement.

This position statement has given a licence to “hate speech” about FC which cannot go unchallenged. The ISAAC committee have excluded a section of their own membership because they use FC. I invite members of ISAAC to demonstrate their protest at such an abuse of power and an abuse of thousands of disabled people around the world.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing” Edmund Burke.

 Adam Barrett

BA (Hons), PGCE, MEd, FC Trainer.

 

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