And in the middle of it all there is this gem:
Q: What if I speak more than one language? Is my accent a speech sound disorder?
A: An accent is the unique way that speech is pronounced by a group of people speaking the same language. Accents are a natural part of spoken languages. It is important to realize that no accent is better than another. Accents are NOT a speech or language disorder. An SLP can work on accent modification services if a client wishes to reduce or modify his or her accent.
“An accent is NOT a speech or language disorder,” they say. “It is important to realize no accent is better than another.”
It all gets stranger when you look at the accent modification page:
Q: How do accents affect communication?
A: Accents reflect the unique characteristics and background of a person. Many people take great pride in their accents. However, some people may have difficulty communicating because of their accent. These difficulties include the following:
- People not understanding you
- Avoiding social interaction with those who may not understand you
- Frustration from having to repeat yourself all the time
- People focusing on your accent more than on what you are trying to say
…Well that sounds eerily familiar.
So why is it that a regional accent is “NOT a speech disorder,” but my disability accent, although it causes the exact same “difficulties,” although it is a matter of pride and identity for me, is? Why are regional accents considered “a natural part of spoken languages,” when the disability accents, likewise used by tens of millions of people worldwide aren’t? Why is it so “important to realize that no [regional] accent is better than another,” but my disability accent should be treated and removed?
This isn’t about our voices being wrong. This is about how we treat those who do not develop the way that “typical” children do. This isn’t about communication. This is about fixing and hiding away abnormal voices, abnormal bodies. This is about our culture being attuned to racism but not disability oppression. This is about how speech experts have decided variation is good, unless it is due to disability.
Sorry ASHA. Your ableism’s showing.
- Josh and Charis