The human right to communicate and our need to listen: Learning from people with a history of childhood communication disorder

Jane McCormack, Elise Baker, Kathryn Crowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: In 2013, the Australian Government Senate formed a committee for inquiry and report into the prevalence of speech, language, and communication disorders and speech pathology services in Australia. Submissions were sought from individuals and organisations. In this paper, submissions made by individuals with a history of childhood communication disorder were examined to explore their life experiences and the impact on their lives when the right to communicate could not be enacted. Method: There were 305 submissions to the Australian Government Senate Committee Inquiry, of which 288 were publically accessible. In this study, the submissions (n = 17) from children or adults with a history of communication disorder (including speech, language and stuttering), who provided personal accounts of their experiences, were analysed using an interpretative phenomenological approach. Result: Four themes emerged relating to: personal identity, life with communication disorder, the importance of help, and how life would be different without a communication disorder. Conclusions: This paper gives voice to children and adults with communication disorder. In listening to these voices, the impact of communication disorder on the right to communicate and on other human rights can be heard, and the need for a response is clear. However, the challenge is to determine how the voices of these individuals, and others like them, can be enabled to exert real influence on practice and policy so communication disorder will no longer be a barrier to attainment of their human rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-151
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number1
Early online date21 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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