What if your basic human right to communicate was limited because you did not have an alternative means of communication?

What if you loved or cared about something so deeply, but you did not have the means to communicate it?

What if you were abused and did not have the means to tell someone? (In fact, people with disabilities are exposed to abuse at least four times more than the general population).

What if people spoke about you as if you were not there?

It is ironic, that on Nelson Mandela Day; a day that represents freedom and empowerment, the right to communicate, is denied to so many. This is because there are many who don’t have access to the augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) that they need.

What is AAC?

AAC refers to Augmentative and Alternative Communication. It describes various methods of communication that can help people who are unable to use verbal speech to communicate.

AAC includes simple systems such as pictures, gestures and pointing, as well as more complex techniques involving computer technology.

The choice of communicative aids should depend  on the needs, the use and the commitment of the user.

The use of AAC intervention should NOT be dependent on the failure to develop oral speech, but rather to prevent failure in communication and language development.

The right to communicate

In order to recognize the right to communicate, the means to communicate must be available.   AAC should be available to meet the basic communication needs of everyone.

This includes:

  • The right to interact socially and build relationships
  • The right to request
  • The right to refuse
  • The right to express personal preferences and feelings
  • The right to make choices from meaningful alternatives
  • The right to comment and share opinions
  • The right to ask for and give information
  • The right to be informed
  • The right to access interventions and supports that improve communication
  • The right to have access to functioning AAC
  • The right to access contexts, interaction and opportunities that promote full participation with other people.
  • The right to be addressed directly and not to be spoken for or talked about while present

Taken from National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons With Severe Disabilities (NJC) 



The right to communicate




Communication represents an essential and very important human need as well as a basic human right.

Nelson Mandela moved an entire nation towards change through his ability to communicate his thoughts, ideas and ideals.







On #MandelaDay, it is your duty to ensure that you use your right to communicate.

It is your duty to help those that are not able to communicate, find their voice so that they can exercise their right to communicate.



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