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Interacting with People who have Speech Disabilities

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 7.5 million people in the United States have trouble using their voices and 3 million Americans stutter. Disorders of the voice involve problems with pitch, loudness, and quality. Many people who have normal speaking skills have great difficulty communicating when their vocal apparatus fails. This can occur if the nerves controlling the larynx are impaired because of an accident, a surgical procedure, a viral infection, or cancer. Positive etiquette for interacting with people who have a mental disability include the following:

  • Give whole, unhurried attention to the person who has difficulty speaking
  • Rather than speak for the person, allow extra time and give help when needed
  • When necessary, ask questions that require short answers or a nod or shake of the head
  • Encourage the person with a speech disability to talk
  • Keep your manner encouraging rather than correcting.
  • If you have difficulty understanding, don't pretend. Repeat as much as you do understand. The person's reactions will guide you and clue you in
Accessibility Changes
  • Intercessory and private prayer



American Speech Language Hearing Association
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is the professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 145,000 members and affiliates who are speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists in the United States and internationally.

Federal Communications Commission – Speech to Speech Relay
Speech-To-Speech (STS) is a form of Relay Services that provides Communications Assistants (CAs) for people with speech disabilities who have difficulty being understood on the phone

National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders
The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders conducts and supports biomedical and behavioral research and research training in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language.