We communicate with each other every day, it’s just what we do, right? But why do we need to interact with other people?
Well, most humans like to build connections with others, we like to discuss all manner of things and share our thoughts and opinions. It’s part of life, but what if a person has got a speech impairment or is non-verbal? How does this person interact with other people? AAC of course! Augmentative and alternative communication enables a non-verbal person to unlock their voice. Still, it’s not all up to the AAC user. The AAC user relies on a communication partner to do their bit, and see, that their role is important in establishing normalcy and value in communicating via AAC out in public. The first interaction truly affects the first connection and it is certainly worth speaking with an AAC user.
The first thing to notice is the person’s soul, treat them like your family and friends. Don’t judge a person by their appearance. Remember that the AAC user has feelings like everyone else, and if you see an AAC user, go up to them and say, how’s it going? Be patient and give them time to prepare their message. Did you know the average AAC user can produce about 15 words per minute? And it takes a lot of energy to create those words. How you would feel if you could only create so many words a minute but have a million thoughts in your head?
That’s the feeling of someone who uses AAC. Yes, it can be frustrating to output a sentence that takes a long time. An AAC user might be overwhelmed when they deliver their message to their communication partner because they might think that partner has lost interest or overlooked them. Please, if you meet an AAC user out in public, mention to them that they should takes as much time as they need. That way, the AAC user will relax and continue to type their message and not worry about the communication partner walking away.
We are working towards a more inclusive society, this starts with an individual making a positive change, and hopefully, an army of people will follow in the same footsteps. Imagine a world without judgment of people, especially when it’s the disability community. Someone’s appearance does not reflect the person; what demonstrates the person is what is inside of them. Try to interact with people who use AAC, maybe you could go get a coffee or hot chocolate and have a good chat with them. You might be surprised!