Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Communication Access: The Last Frontier in Accessibility

Filed under: General,Work — by at 2:09 pm on Friday, May 2, 2014

Communication Access symbol symbol contains two faces, one talking, both watching and a two-way arrow indicating an exchange or interaction

One morning, many moons ago…back in high school, while I was wheeling past the school office on my way to class, the boys’ guidance counsellor happened to be in the hallway and asked, “Glenda, would you rather be able to walk or to talk?”

Some people might find that question insensitive or even offensive. I found it sincere and genuinely interested.

I am puzzled by society’s obsession with the ability to walk. That not being able to move about upright on one’s own two feet makes you less of a person, less worthy or valuable. And it is something that needs fixing or curing.

But the inability to clearly communicate verbally is far more disabling. For some reason, which I still do not understand, the majority of society links the ability to speak with the ability to hear and to understand. When encountering someone who has troubles speaking or who they assume do not understand, they automatically begin talking louder and slower, and even use hand gestures as if an impromptu game of Charades had broken out.

Not being able to speak clearly causes much frustration, misunderstanding and isolation. It means the daily interactions people have with others without even thinking about it becomes an ordeal. Little things like making a hair appointment, ordering an iced mocha latte with skim milk, or talking with one’s doctor in private becomes an ordeal, if not impossible. It also means missed opportunities when it comes to socializing, making friends, and finding jobs. This negatively impacts one’s self-esteem and self-confidence, leading to further social isolation.

To the counsellor’s question, I immediately uttered “talk” and continued, unfazed, on my way to class.

Nearly thirty-five years later, the last frontier in accessibility is finally being addressed: communication access.

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) has launched a 2.5-year national project Communication Access Now (CAN) to promote communication accessibility for people who have speech and language disabilities.

If that isn’t fantastic enough, I am excited to share that I am now the Social Media Coordinator for this national awareness campaign; a project very dear to my heart for obvious reasons. I am now tweeting and facebooking (that is a word, right?) on behalf of Communication Access Now. I get to help get the message out, using communication tools I love! How perfect.

How can you become involved?

Check out the education and resources about making goods and services accessible to people with communication disabilities. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Please join us in this awareness campaign. Together, we can conquer this final frontier in accessibility.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by Annette Schwindt

May 3, 2014 @ 12:08 am

Hi Glenda and yay for you working with CAN now!

A friend of mine who wasn’t able to talk clearly anymore and was in a wheelchair after an accident always used to tell me: Not being able to walk is separating you from things – but not being able to talk is separating you from people.

Comment by Patricia Scow

May 3, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

Way to go Glenda!! I am happy for you.

Comment by Glenda

May 5, 2014 @ 10:20 am

Patricia, thank you.

Annette, yes, very true!

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