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!

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. Register here for this one-of-a-kind, 90-minute, live webinar on December 15, 2021, at 2:30 pm ET.…

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Restraint and Seclusion Litigation Against Fairfax County Public Schools Is Resolved

By Communication First | Nov 24, 2021
image of US Supreme Court

We are pleased to announce that CommunicationFIRST, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), and six students with disabilities have successfully resolved our federal restraint and seclusion case against Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) in Virginia. Two of the student plaintiffs, Q.T. and…

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Meet Pancho Ramirez, CommunicationFIRST’s Newest Board Member!

By Communication First | Nov 22, 2021
A black and white sketch line drawing of the face and shoulders of a Latinx-appearing man wearing glasses, a baseball cap, a moustache and goatee, wearing headphones and a head mouse with a slight smile on his face

Pancho Ramirez is CommunicationFIRST’s newest Board member. As a Mexican immigrant farmworker, he acquired his speech disability in 2003 at age 20 after a car accident led to a brain stem stroke, and has lived in nursing homes and hospitals in northern California ever since. While living in an institutional…

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Tell the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee to Support Nonspeaking People and Communication Access!

By Communication First | Nov 21, 2021
Image has text that reads "Request for Public Comment: The IACC invites public comment to inform the development of the 2021-2022 IACC Strategic Plan" with images with the covers of former strategic plans and the logo of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

The U.S. Government‘s Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) helps determine how federal government money related to autism is spent. Although CommunicationFIRST is a cross-disability organization, a large percentage of our constituency is autistic. We have been encouraged to submit comments to help inform the 2021-2022 IACC Strategic Plan, and we…

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Guest Blog: Communication Barriers Faced by AAC Users in Accessing Health Care

By Communication First | Nov 19, 2021
partial image of an AAC device with the words "taking access and choice away is terrorizing"

by endever* corbin This guest blog is adapted from a presentation given at the August 2021 Reinventing Quality conference. I’m endever*, I go by they/them pronouns, and I’m a mostly nonspeaking autistic self-advocate. I focus a lot of my writing and presentations on my experiences with AAC-augmentative and alternative communication. …

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CommunicationFIRST to DC Council: Eliminate IQ Requirement to Qualify for Services

By Communication First | Nov 15, 2021
abstract image of the back of a male-appearing black person with short black curly hair wearing a peach colored shirt who appears to be sitting at a desk in the back of a classroom

On November 5, 2021, CommunicationFIRST’s Policy Director, Bob Williams, submitted written testimony to urge the DC Council (Washington, DC’s legislative body) to quickly pass a bill that would eliminate a requirement for IQ tests to be used in deciding who qualifies to receive developmental disability services. The Developmental Disability Eligibility…

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AAC Users Interview Jordyn Zimmerman (Updated with Recordings)

By Communication First | Oct 29, 2021
Text says "AAC Users Interview Jordyn Zimmerman - November 10, 2021 - 7:00 pm ET" Image of Jordyn, a young white adult woman with long brown hair sitting on a stage typing on an augmentative communication device, next to a flyer of the documentary film "This Is Not About Me"

On November 10, 2021, CommunicationFIRST hosted an opportunity for AAC users to interview Jordyn Zimmerman about the new documentary This Is Not About Me, featuring Jordyn and her educational experiences with and without access to robust augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).¬†CommunicationFIRST’s Policy Director (and full-time AAC user), Bob Williams, moderated…

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