A Communication Bill of Rights

All persons, regardless of the extent or severity of their disabilities, have a basic right to affect, through communication, the conditions of their own existence. Beyond this general right, a number of specific communication rights should be ensured in all daily interactions and interventions involving persons who have severe disabilities.

These basic communication rights are as follows:

  1. The right to request desired objects, actions, events, and persons, and to express personal preferences, or feelings.
  2. The right to be offered choices end alternatives.
  3. The right to reject or refuse undesired objects, events, or actions, including the right to decline or reject all proffered choices.
  4. The right to request, and be given, attention from and interaction with another person.
  5. The right to request feedback or information about state, an object, a person, or an event of interest.
  6. The right to active treatment and intervention efforts to enable people with severe disabilities to communicate messages in whatever modes and as effectively and efficiently as their specific abilities will allow.
  7. The right to have communication acts acknowledged and responded to, even when the intent of these acts cannot be fulfilled by the responder.
  8. The right to have access at all times to any needed augmentative and alternative communication devices and other assistive devices, and to have those devices in good working order.
  9. The right to environmental contexts, interactions, and opportunities that expect and encourage persons with disabilities to participate as full communication partners with other people, including peers.
  10. The right to be informed about the people, things, and events in one’s immediate environment.
  11. The right to be communicated with in a manner that recognizes and acknowledges the inherent dignity of the person being addressed, including the right to be part of communication exchanges about individuals that are conducted in his or her presence.
  12. The right to be communicated with in ways that are meaningful, understandable, and culturally and linguistically appropriate.