Inclusion Now 67

Hear my voice

By Blake Williamson

Blake Williamson

Life as a nonverbal communicator has given me some extraordinary experiences especially, ironically, around communication. The notion of communication being one dimensional i.e verbal, is still the default for most people, with any anomaly eyed as suspicious.

The possibility that we may all at some time during our life be nonverbal, even if only for a while, is a very real probability; weakness from illness or injury, a stroke, pneumonia, anxiety, Parkinsons or simply laryngitis. Given these odds it feels incongruous that my facilitated communication is received the way it is. Those who are unfamiliar with me find this concept difficult to comprehend and are often quite vocal with their opinion.

Facilitated communication is used when a person’s physical abilities affect accuracy when pointing at letters on a board to spell out words and sentences. The facilitator reads what has been written and speaks those words. My Personal Assistants (PA’s) take great care when reading and then expressing my words to accurately convey my meaning. I have used this method from childhood, from family, classroom assistants, college support, university mentors to PA’s.  Many have acknowledged my communication within educational settings, some have challenged it. These challenges always came from a power dynamic which had to be picked apart to illicit understanding, which I worry is now the default approach in many schools and classrooms.

I have always hoped that the visibility of a nonverbal communicator within education, communities, work, and leisure environments shape the understanding of educators and influence the learners of communication in all its forms.

Anything but silent

A poem by Blake Williamson

We understand others far beyond just speech
There is so much underlying that words alone cannot teach
We are anything but silent if you take the time to know
Friendships can be richer if we sow patience and watch it grow
My opinions are just as valid and I have plenty to convey
The rewards are simply richer if we all get a say