Workplace Disability Etiquette
People with Speech Impairments
There are people with nervous system characteristics which affect their speech. Cerebral palsy is one example of a disability which, for some, speech is affected because the muscles are not responsive in a way that supports "normal" speech. There are many other reasons why someone's speech might be affected: stroke, ALS, facial trauma, brain tumors, Parkinson's or Huntington's disease, stuttering, and others.
Impaired speech often gives the impression of lower intelligence. There is no correlation of this whatsoever. Take care not to treat a person with a
speech impairment in a patronizing way – which can only be a result of your own discomfort.
Here's the main thing to understand about speech impairment: we all have a right to express ourselves and be understood. We all deserve patience from others
for however we best need to express ourselves.
A person for whom speech requires effort does not mince words. Exactly because it is an effort, they are more likely to take time to think before they speak – something many of us could take as an example!
And if they are using an Augmentative Speech device, the same rules apply. Allow them the relaxed time it takes for them to speak in their own way, even when it's through a machine. It might be an electronic voice, but it's their heart and mind that is coming through it.