An Aphasia-Friendly World?

Group of older people showing thumbs up

Heaps of people have communication problems. Why can’t the world be a little more communication friendly? Particularly for people who suddenly find they have aphasia.

Aphasia after a stroke or brain injury is a traumatic event. A communicatively able person is suddenly communicatively disabled. They are thrust into a world dependent on communication for living (work, leisure, education) and loving (relationships, identity).

What would an aphasia-friendly world look like? It would be a wonderful world where:

  • Other people understood that people with aphasia were not stupid. That language impairment affects language not intelligence.
  • Conversations and communications were respectful.
  • Other people accommodated for the language difficulties of your aphasia – they didn’t finish your sentences, or put words into your mouth, they actively listened and modified the way they spoke to help.
  • Information was always offered in easy to understand formats.
  • Services were always communicatively accessible – no hard to understand appointment letters!
  • Shop assistants, lawyers and doctors gave you time to say what you need (and didn’t charge for it!)

People in wheelchairs have ramps to buildings; people who are deaf have access to sign language interpreters; people who are blind may have Braille. Where are our ramps? Where are our interpreters? Where is the clear, non patronizing information for people with aphasia?

Want more? Read the research article – Worrall, L., Rose, T., Howe, T., McKenna, K., & Hickson, L. (2007) Developing an evidence-base for communication accessibility for people with aphasia Aphasiology 21, 1, 124-136 (abstract available online for free, full article behind the pay-wall)

What are your thoughts on making the world more aphasia-friendly?

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