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!

Bob Williams Eulogy for Judy Heumann

By Communication FIRST | Mar 8, 2023
Bob Williams, an older white man sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a yarmulke looks at the audience while presenting in front of a microphone. A speech generating device is in front of him. Two women rabbis sit behind him looking on.

The following is the transcript of Bob Williams’ eulogy delivered at the March 8, 2023 memorial service for CommunicationFIRST’s late Board member Judy Heumann. The service was live-streamed by the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC, and a captioned, ASL-interpreted recording can be viewed here. Bob’s eulogy begins at time-stamp…

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“All Voices Matter” – Remembering Judy Heumann (1947 – 2023)

By Communication FIRST | Mar 7, 2023
A photo collage containing eight different photos of Judy Heumann with Bob Williams, Jordyn Zimmerman, Tauna Szymanski, and others

Like others in the disability community and around the world, everyone at CommunicationFIRST is devastated by the untimely loss of our badass colleague, Judy Heumann. Judy was elected to our Board of Directors in June 2019, months before CommunicationFIRST publicly launched. She played an indispensable role in helping the organization…

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Police Brutality: A (Speech) Disability Concern

By Communication FIRST | Feb 14, 2023
out of focus image of a parked police car with blue lights on at night

Content Warning: This post discusses police brutality against disabled people.  On January 26, 2023, police in Huntington Park, California, fatally shot a 36-year-old Black man and double amputee, Anthony Lowe. Police had been called because of allegations that Lowe had stabbed someone. Video footage of the incident shows Lowe “[outside…

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So Much

By Communication FIRST | Feb 14, 2023
Two Black men kneeling on a stage facing the audience. One is behind the other and his hands are on the biceps of the man in front, who is wearing a grey tanktop and white trousers. Both men have serious looks on their faces. The man in back has long hair and a short beard, and his face is partially obscured by the man in front. The man in front is Lateef McLeod and he has very short hair with a hint of a beard. His hands are balled into relaxed fists and are laying on top of each other at the wrist. They are bathed in a warm light, and the background is bathed in an electric blue light.

I hear their painful cries jut up from cracks on the street.

The block is a scorching frying pan,

frying my brothers on the pavement.

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What is Speechism?

By Communication FIRST | Dec 16, 2022
Image with green background and blue text that says, “What is speechism?” To the right of the text are four question marks in black of varying sizes and a thin vertical line behind one of the question marks.

A Working Definition and Request for Input For centuries, people with significant speech disabilities have been treated as if we should not be seen or heard. Our ability, right, and basic need to express ourselves have been routinely overlooked and denied. Our words have been questioned because we do not…

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SLPs as AAC Gatekeepers

By Communication FIRST | Dec 12, 2022
A smiling white woman in her 20s with medium length brown hair wearing a light pink blazer over a grey t-shirt that says "Speech does not make someone more human" and a conference lanyard around her neck that says "Jordyn" and "Presenter" and has a mini-fidget attached. She is standing in front of a screen that says "2022 ASHA Convention - SLPs as Gatekeepers: Reimagining, Challenging, and Pushing Our Assumptions - 2:45-3:45". The bottom of the screen says 2:22 PM and November 18, 2022, and New Orleans Convention Center.

Guest blog by Jordyn Zimmerman, M.Ed. On November 18, 2022, CommunicationFIRST Board Chair Jordyn Zimmerman gave an invited presentation at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)’s Annual Convention in New Orleans entitled, “SLPs as Gatekeepers: Reimagining, Challenging, and Pushing Our Assumptions.” The presentation generated lots of discussion, with one attendee commenting,…

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Kids Need to Be Able to Communicate with their Doctors

By Communication FIRST | Nov 23, 2022
White text on a green-shaded background with an image of a child being examined by a doctor, reading " Ignoring a child’s need, ability, and right to express themselves and be understood in a health care setting is dangerous to their health, well-being, and life. -- Bob Williams" and the CommunicationFIRST logo in black and white, with the tagline, "Because communication is a human right."

Bob Williams Testimony on behalf of CommunicationFIRST on the Rights of Children and Youth to Effective Communication and Quality Health Care in Pediatric and Other Health Care Settings  Supporting Access for Everyone (SAFE) Initiative  October 6, 2022 Good afternoon. I am Bob Williams, Policy Director of CommunicationFIRST. We are the…

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Run for Office with a Speech Disability?

By Communication FIRST | Nov 4, 2022
Yellow background with black text that reads, "Run for Office with a Speech Disability?"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CommunicationFIRST joins other disability rights advocates to express dismay at the public and media response to a current political candidate’s communication disability. Over the past few weeks, the media has focused unduly on communication-related accommodations reasonably requested by the candidate, and cast the candidate’s apparent audio processing…

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CommunicationFIRST Urges HHS to Strengthen Communication Regulations for People Who Need AAC

By Communication FIRST | Oct 5, 2022
stock photo image of a government building looking up at columns and a blue sky with clouds

On October 3, 2022, CommunicationFIRST submitted comments to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on its proposed rules to implement and enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. These regulations include protections for people who cannot rely on speech to be heard and understood, and require…

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