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!

Thoughts from an Autistic AAC User After the April 2022 Meeting of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

By Communication FIRST | Apr 20, 2022
Young white man with brown hair sitting at a table typing on an iPad communication device. An inset of the screen he is typing on is visible. The screen and video captions read "Hi everyone."

Grant Blasko, a nonspeaking autistic augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) user and member of CommunicationFIRST’s Advisory Council, expressed the following reactions the day after the US Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) held its first meeting in years dedicated to the communication support needs of nonspeaking autistic people. A video recording…

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Bob Williams’s Invited Comments to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

By Communication FIRST | Apr 14, 2022
Screenshot of Communication First Policy Director Bob Williams, an older white male wearing a pink button down shirt, giving remarks using his speech generating device, to the NIH IACC. A Zoom screen of IACC Coordinator Susan Daniels is also visible.

CommunicationFIRST was one of five entities and individuals invited to deliver three-minute “oral” public comments to the US Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) on April 14, 2022, before the IACC’s first session in years devoted to the topic of the communication support needs of autistic people. CommunicationFIRST’s Policy Director, Bob…

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Jordyn Zimmerman’s Remarks to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee 

By Communication FIRST | Apr 14, 2022
Screenshot of Jordyn Zimmerman giving remarks to the NIH IACC with her speech generating device on April 14, 2022. Jordyn is a white woman with long, wavy brown hair, and is wearing a black blazer.

The following is the text of CommunicationFIRST Board Member Jordyn Zimmerman’s invited remarks to the US Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) on April 14, 2022. The remarks were invited as part of the IACC’s first session in years focused on the communication support needs of autistic people. Jordyn was the…

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Autism Acceptance … of Communication Stress?

By Communication FIRST | Apr 14, 2022
"We are working way harder to be heard than we get credit for." - Grant Blasko. Image of a serious looking young white man with brown hair standing outside in front of a natural background. CommunicationFIRST logo at bottom

Grant Blasko is a member of CommunicationFIRST’s Advisory Council. He is 19 years old, autistic, a full-time user of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), and is a student in the state of Washington. Grant has collaborated with numerous institutions on issues relating to both autism and meaningful communication and educational…

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Comments to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

By Communication FIRST | Apr 11, 2022
stylistic quotation marks on orange background

On April 14, 2022, from 1:00-5:00 pm Eastern US time, the US Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) will be holding its first session in years on the communication support needs of autistic people. CommunicationFIRST Board member Jordyn Zimmerman is the only autistic AAC user who has been invited to present…

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Running From the Ecological Wave

By Communication FIRST | Apr 11, 2022
Lateef McLeod, a black man looking serious at the camera while sitting in what appears to be a wheelchair

The poem “Running from the Ecological Wave” was written by CommunicationFIRST Board member Lateef McLeod, who lives in Oakland, California. It was first performed as part of Sins Invalid‘s October 2020 show, “We Love Like Barnacles: Crip Lives in Climate Chaos.” In March 2022, the poem won the Wynn Newhouse…

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Section 504 Needs to be Strengthened

By Communication FIRST | Mar 28, 2022
Black and white high school photo of a smiling Bob Williams wearing glasses next to a quote that reads "It is a vast understatement to say that the publication of the 504 rules transformed my life." - Bob Williams. The blue and white Communication First logo is at the bottom.

On February 22, 2022, CommunicationFIRST was invited to provide comments at a stakeholder listening session sponsored by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The listening session addressed OCR’s plan to revise its regulations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act…

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Reflection of a Black Immigrant Woman with a Speech Disability

By Communication First | Feb 23, 2022
Image of a smiling black woman with short black hair wearing a suit and smiling at the camera. A tracheostomy scar is visible at her throat.

Guest Blog by Laka Mitiku Negassa As a Black, immigrant woman with an acquired disability, I celebrate monumental events such as Black History Month and the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act fervently. These civil rights laws have allowed me to live fully while contributing to society in pursuit…

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Running for Office with a Speech Disability

By Communication First | Dec 8, 2021
Flyer in yellow and green with the words "Running for Office with a Speech Disability: A live webinar: December 15, 2021, 2:30-4:00 pm ET." Circular headshots of Coleman Watson, 2022 US Senate Candidate (a smiling, dark-haired Black man wearing a suit); India Ochs, 2020 School Board Candidate (a smiling, brown-haired White woman wearing a colorful top); Sascha Bittner, Guest Moderator (a smiling, auburn-haired White-appearing woman wearing a red and black top); and Angelica Vega, Guest Moderator (a smiling, black-haired Afro-Latina woman wearing a black and white top), with the green, black and white CommunicationFIRST logo at the bottom

Have you ever thought about running for political office? Here’s your chance to hear from four people with speech-related disabilities about their experiences running for elected office and otherwise being active in electoral politics. This one-of-a-kind, 90-minute, live webinar took place on December 15, 2021. An open-captioned video recording are…

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