From individual to global: Human rights and aphasia
International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Taylor and Francis Ltd
School of Medical and Health Sciences
This commentary marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by examining Article 19 and its application to people with aphasia. This group of people still face lack of access, stigmatisation, exclusion, disadvantage and social withdrawal as well as poor public awareness of aphasia and inadequate prioritisation of support and resources. Nevertheless, a range of creative initiatives at individual, healthcare, local community, national and global levels have helped to connect and empower people with aphasia. Such initiatives include provision of accessible information in a range of media, inclusion of people with aphasia in decision-making and as research partners, awareness raising campaigns to counter attitudinal barriers, organisation of community aphasia groups, development of guidelines for best practice, national aphasia associations and international collaborations such as Aphasia United. While ongoing work and resourcing is needed to expand these efforts further, they have helped people with aphasia to be heard and to protect their sense of dignity which underlies human rights. A human rights approach can unite, politicise and refocus these efforts, and highlight the essential role of communication in fostering a better quality of life.