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Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs: Accessible Communication Bill of Rights

“Let’s make a clear and meaningful Communication Bill of Rights, an Accessible Communication Bill of Rights. One that can be read by the average American, by the 1 in 5 Americans that read at or below a fifth grade level, by students from grade three and up. Let’s add symbols to support understanding for those who need them.” – Kate Ahern of “Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs Blog”

I love this. It’s a more simplified, visual version of the Communication Bill of Rights.

All of these points are valid and significant, but when I’m working with kiddos with limited communication, I always put the following 3 ideas first:

  1. the right to make meaningful choices
  2. the right to know what is happening around them and what is happening with the people they care about
  3. the right to have their requests acknowledged and answered, even if the answer is no

It seems like such a small set of things to consider, but it means the world to people who cannot communicate easily or move independently. Especially the part about making choices.

Everyone needs to feel some measure of control over their own life. The feeling of a lack of control can lead to some pretty random behaviors. I personally will perform a range of actions, from fidgeting and stimming to lining up and/or reorganizing items on the grocery store shelves. The less functional communication a person has, the more severe their behaviors can be, as a result. Food for thought!

via Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs: Accessible Communication Bill of Rights


Published by Adriana Lebrón White

Autistic school librarian and former special education teacher. MA Ed in Special Education and MLIS with a focus on Youth Services and Storytelling.

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