I’ve been writing a paper recently on the ‘hackery’ that is (I think) a fairly implicit part of AAC-use. When it is completed, you guys will obviously see a final version. But we found ourselves somewhat trapped by the language a little, It’s quite difficult to talk about an ‘AAC-user’ when, for example, the AAC-user has an entirely broken device. It’s also a little difficult when talking about a carer programming an AAC device – they are *a* AAC-user, but *the* AAC-user is someone else. This gets deeply confusing when you have a sentence with more than one actual AAC-user.
Instead, we’ve (so far) somewhat abandoned the standard terminology. In our household we’ve always referred to Richard’s AAC-device as his ‘Voice’, and that seems to be a nice label. And instead of Voice-user – we went with Voice-owner. This is for several reasons:
- It deals nicely with the ‘device broken’ issue above
- It puts the ‘user’ in the correct position in the care network.
This second one is important. I am a Costa user – but Costa can change without consulting me. I also use Twitter user, but Twitter can, does, and will, happily change without any acknowledgement of my rights. But I own this blog, and so it doesn’t change without my day so. If I own a car, then it’s my car. It might break down, but then I get people to fix it. They report to me. So I think ‘Voice-owner’ is a slightly more natural term to use – particularly when looking at AAC-use within it’s own care network.
It’s particularly nice because then you quickly get ‘Voice-mechanics’, ‘Voice-programmers’ and a variety of other sensibly defined roles that are all subordinate to the owner of the voice in their opinion, and I believe this is important.
I’m aware that only a few weeks ago I wrote a post entitled Why I personally have an open policy on if we use ‘people with disability’ or ‘disabled people’, which I very much stand by – that post was about abuse, this one is about use – and I think that is all the difference in the world.
EDIT: As a result of the ‘Earn money for criticizing me‘ pledge, this post earned $2.00 for MIND