Right to Communication

A man’s foot is tapping on a communication device attached to the base of his wheelchair, which is next to a microphone

Communication is a human right. International bodies like the United Nations, or U.N., are beginning to recognize it. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities says, in part:

“To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.”

DVU President Judy Mark sits in a seat at the UN with her name displayed in front of her and a piece of paper on the desk

In 2019, DVU President Judy Mark testified at the United Nation’s World Autism Awareness Day, which theme that year was “Assistive Technologies, Active Participation.”

Watch Judy’s testimony at the UN, starting at 1:40 >>

The Communication Access Interchange 

If you’d like to learn more about your right to communication access, visit the Communication Access Interchange >>


The Communication Disabilities Access Network  

The Communication Disabilities Access Network (CDAN) is a project co-led by Disability Voices United and Disability Rights California. Our goal is to build, train, and activate a network so that Californians with disabilities can access communication supports and their communities. While strong laws and policies guarantee individuals with developmental disabilities the right to communication supports to access their communities, evidence shows that many people are still without these supports. Self-advocates and families often don’t know their rights. Staff and educators aren’t usually trained on supporting individuals with communication disabilities. And agencies that are required to provide access to communications supports, such as school districts, regional centers, and public and private insurance entities, often deny or limit access to these supports. 

If you have a question about CDAN, please contact Darlene Hanson. CDAN is funded by Ability Central Philanthropy. 

Join the Communication Disabilities Access Network >>


Survey on Barriers to Accessing Communication Support

Disability Voices United and Disability Rights California are conducting a survey project that explores the various problems people with developmental disabilities face when trying to access communication supports.

Select one of the surveys below to share your experiences with barriers to communication.

Right to Learn: A Webinar on Student Rights to Receive Communication and Other Supports During the Pandemic

This webinar led by Communication First and Disability Rights California talks about the rights students have to communication and other supports in online education. Many students who need in-person support to communicate in order to access education are struggling with virtual learning during the pandemic. Our webinar will include presentations on a Virtual Learning Access Rights Toolkit as well as recent special education developments in California. We will also hear from families about their experiences with remote education during COVID. This webinar is held by Disability Voices United and Disability Rights California as part of the Communication Disabilities Access Network (CDAN) project funded by Ability Central Philanthropy.


  • Michelle Del Rosario, parent
  • William Del Rosario, student
  • Taymour Ravandi, Senior Attorney, Disability Rights California
  • Tauna Szymanski, Executive Director and Legal Director

Resources mentioned in the webinar:

CommunicationFirst’s Virtual Access Toolkit  in English

CommunicationFirst’s Virtual Access Toolkit in Spanish

Disability Rights California’s Document on Special Education Rights and Responsibilities in English 

Disability Rights California’s Document on Special Education Rights and Responsibilities in Spanish