Here at Did I Stutter, we have been using and working on the concept of Communication Accessibility for quite some time and while we do not disagree with its application to the instance of alternative communication being discounted by political/legal authority figures, we also wish not to add any more discussion to the already dicey topic of the Stubblefield case.
To expand the discussion, this blog will offer a series of other situations in which the concept is useful:
• Communication Accessibility is practiced when the authorities governing a classroom/court room/debate round (or other formal conversation space) take material or discursive actions to include alternative ways of communicating in the space.
•Communication Accessibility does not only apply to heard/spoken speech but also applies to other media---offering American Sign Language translation services in multiple venues is an action which makes communication accessible.
•Communication Accessibility also applies to communicative interference. While human produced sounds or nonverbal communications are never considered to be interference in this alternative embodiment affirming position, interference may be made by all manner of mechanical noisemaking machines or by other voices not involved in the conversation---a part of Communication Accessibility is reducing other sensory phenomenal presence. Sometimes, this means turning off a television in the background or lowering its sound---other times, this means altering the venue and finding a quieter or less visually overwhelming area for communication to begin.
•Communication Accessibility is temporal; longer times for speech, assistance with managing communicative data (such as note-taking or conversation repair or alterations to the situation to allow for lip-reading) are to be considered a part of communicative accessibility.
Scholars such as Jim Charlton have codified how the hierarchy of disability means that accessibility happens first for the visibly disabled and last for those who are invisibly disabled.
Communication Accessibility has been informally and silently left to the last of the goals of what was the disability rights movement---today we see it starting to be addressed in often surface ways, such as “trigger warnings” and “content warnings” as well as in difficult battles over captioning, skyping, quiet rooms and speech times in college debate events.
To make Communication Accessible, we as a society or as multiple societies, will have to engage in a series of processes of rethinking what communication is.