Perspectives will be updated regularly with profiles and guest blogs from our members and allies, essays, news, photos, videos, and other features. Come back often!

New Film, 13 AAC Users: Priorities for Future Research

By Communication FIRST | Jul 11, 2024
Pancho Ramirez, a Latino AAC user, uses his AAC device.

CommunicationFIRST publicly recruited a diverse group of AAC users who were willing to be interviewed on camera about their priorities for AAC research.
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AAC Research Summit: Select AAC Users on Research Priorities

By Communication FIRST | Jun 21, 2024
Screenshot of Alice Wong from her video presentation

In a first-of-its-kind event held May 13-14, 2024, people with speech-related disabilities from around the U.S. told senior federal officials and researchers how future research dollars should be prioritized.
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The Census Bureau Needs to Start Counting Us

By Communication FIRST | Dec 29, 2023
Stock photo of a crowd viewed from above

On December 19, 2023, CommunicationFIRST asked the US Census Bureau to begin formally counting the estimated 5 million people in the US who need and use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) tools and supports to be understood. The Census Bureau asked for comment about a proposed new speech-related question…
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Digital Accessibility for AAC Users is a Civil Rights Issue

By Communication FIRST | Nov 7, 2023
Stock image photo of white hands typing on a laptop keyboard

Government websites and apps are a central lever for exercising our civic and constitutionally grounded rights and responsibilities of freedom of expression, assembly, grievance, petition, protest, jury duty, and the franchise. As a matter of right and necessity, people who need AAC must be afforded equally effective access to state and local government websites and apps that all others are afforded.
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Federally Funded Research About AAC Needs to Change

By Communication FIRST | Nov 7, 2023
Stock image photo showing two hands, one on a tablet and one holding a writing utensil in front of an open laptop

Last month, CommunicationFIRST submitted extensive input to one of the largest federal government funders of AAC-related research – the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) – on its proposed 2024-2028 Long Range Plan. In these comments, among other points, CommunicationFIRST shared the following: Flawed and…
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The FCC Needs to Address Digital Discrimination Against People Who Need AAC

By Communication FIRST | Oct 17, 2023
Fuzzy stock image of a smart phone

Invited Remarks of CommunicationFIRST Policy Director Bob Williams to the Federal Communications Commission Task Force to Prevent Digital Discrimination  September 14, 2023 Gallaudet University, Washington, DC Event Link Good morning. I am Bob Williams, the Policy Director and co-founder of CommunicationFIRST, the nation’s only organization led by and for, and dedicated to…
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CommunicationFIRST Welcomes Long-Overdue Disability Rights Rule Proposal

By Communication FIRST | Sep 7, 2023
Generic stock image with blurry lights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 7, 2023                Contact: Tauna Szymanski & Bob Williams at, 202-556-0573 WASHINGTON, D.C. – CommunicationFIRST, the nation’s only civil rights organization led by and for people with speech-related disabilities, welcomes today’s release by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of the…
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Unjustly isolated, silenced, and deprived of literacy and freedom of expression …

By Communication FIRST | Aug 29, 2023
CommunicationFIRST Executive Director Tauna Szymanski and Policy Director Bob Williams in front of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) seal. The seal is located in the lobby of the U.S. Department of Education building and hangs on a wall of marble. The words, “The Department of Education’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access” are below the seal. Bob is a smiling white man with white hair and a mustache wearing glasses and a bowtie with a button-down shirt and khaki pants, sitting in a motorized wheelchair with an AAC device in front of him. Tauna is a smiling white woman with brown hair. She is standing behind Bob and is wearing black and holding a black bag with the CommunicationFIRST logo on it in white.

I escaped the very worst that hundreds of thousands of baby boomers like me endured: institutionalization, isolation, illiteracy, and silencing. We believe that many — and likely most — young people needing AAC today are suffering virtually the same fate I escaped over 50 years ago.
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Research Priorities of AAC Users

By Communication FIRST | Aug 6, 2023
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders wants to hear from you!

We encourage as many AAC users as possible to share your research priorities with NIDCD.
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