American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Communication Bill of Rights

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All people with a disability of any extent or severity have a basic right to affect, through communication, the conditions of their existence. All people have the following specific communication rights in their daily interactions. These rights are summarized from the Communication Bill of Rights put forth in 1992 by the National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities.

Each person has the right to

  • request desired objects, actions, events and people
  • refuse undesired objects, actions, or events
  • express personal preferences and feelings
  • be offered choices and alternatives
  • reject offered choices
  • request and receive another person's attention and interaction
  • ask for and receive information about changes in routine and environment
  • receive intervention to improve communication skills
  • receive a response to any communication, whether or not the responder can fulfill the request
  • have access to AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) and other AT (assistive technology) services and devices at all times
  • have AAC and other AT devices that function properly at all times
  • be in environments that promote one's communication as a full partner with other people, including peers
  • be spoken to with respect and courtesy
  • be spoken to directly and not be spoken for or talked about in the third person while present
  • have clear, meaningful and culturally and linguistically appropriate communications

From the National Joint Committee for the Communicative Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities. (1992). Guidelines for meeting the communication needs of persons with severe disabilities. Asha, 34(Suppl. 7), 2–3.

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