Access to Communication
by Emily Faith Grodin
My name is Emily. I live a very full life: I am a college student, a published author and poet, and I have been hired as an intern in a local government office. These accomplishments have brought me joy and contentment in a way that is hard to describe.
If you would ask me a few years back what I thought I would be doing today, I wouldn’t have had an answer. But I can tell you now: because of this method of communication, I am achieving everything I set my mind to.
But none of these opportunities would be available to me without access to communication. That is because as a non-speaking woman, I type to communicate. This means my laptop or iPad serve as a way to express my thoughts. Without them, I do not have a voice.
This is why I advocate for others who use alternative forms of communication. I know first-hand the doors that open when communication is present. In my own experience there was a very obvious shift that occurred. There is my life before typing, and my life after. You would almost think they are two different people.
Even before typing I had a good life. But without communication, I could not dictate the specifics of my life. Understandably, many things were chosen for me. Everyone around me would have to guess what they thought I wanted. Although they meant well, the idea that they could predict what I wanted wasn’t always the case. Now with my communication device I am able to express more than feelings but also my interests.
Some people think that just because I am non-verbal, I don’t understand. The best part about typing to communicate is being able to prove people wrong. I can carry a great conversation – it just takes me a few minutes to type my thoughts.
Growing up making friends was something difficult. Not everyone wanted to talk to me. It was clear that I was not going to have a full conversation; my speech was limited to one word answers. It was not until I started typing that I started making new friends and reconnecting with old peers. I am able to plan hangouts with friends. Going for walks and then having lunch while we talk about our day is one of my favorite things to do.
I have had many internships in the past. I was given a great opportunity, but unfortunately, was not able to show what I was capable of. One of my biggest
accomplishments was being part of Jesse Gabriel’s team. He saw potential in my writing – he told me I would make a great journalist one day.
I am currently attending Los Angeles Valley College. I am now part of the school newspaper. I am doing what I love most, which is writing. I am learning so much writing for the school paper and enjoying every moment of it. Most importantly, I feel a part of something significant; I am able to share my ideas and answer questions with my peers.
Writing my book opened many doors, not only for myself, but for individuals like me. People from all over the world have reached out to me. Some people that relate, and others that my story touched.
I can confidently say that without access to communication I would not be able to do many of the things I have just written about. These words that you see typed on a screen, they are my voice. Without that, I would not be me.
The Communication Disabilities Access Network hosts blogs by self-advocates. If you’re interested in pitching a blog idea to us, please email us at email@example.com.