After living with a speech impediment for many years, I concluded that the people I meet equate my speech impairment with having an intellectual barrier to conducting an intelligent conversation. Strangers, individuals in a business setting, and even my family and friends, make their communications with me short and to the point.
By not taking the time to communicate more in-depth with me, they limit themselves from having a clearer understanding of who I am and they miss learning more about my interests and viewpoints. For example, they are surprised to learn that I hold two college degrees and run my own business out of my home.
I believe that people who have a speech impediment have two sides of intellect. The first side is what you hear them say and the second side is what their brain is able to process.
Speech devices have opened up doors for people with disabilities who in the past were unable to communicate at all. But having to use a speech augmentative device to help communicate at times can limit spontaneous conversation or comments. In my case there are times where my speech is clear as a bell, but soft spoken, and there are other times where my speech is not as clear, but the volume is not an issue. I have to pick and choose which device to use and when to use it. I have an amplifier that helps increase the volume and I have a speech keyboard that talks for me. Other people I know use speech communication boards that have pictures and speech output.
Each individual with a speech impediment may have different needs or abilities in getting their message across. There are times when a person thinks I might have spoken a different word than what I actually said. Thus causing the meaning of what I said to be way off track. Let me give you an example. The other day at a meeting I said, “I will ask my cousin what day the hunting opener is.” The woman next to me thought I said to ask her husband when the hunting opener is. She responded to my comment, “I am not married.” This shows how the misinterpretation of one word can throw off the entire meaning of the conversation.
I would like to ask readers of this article to challenge people who have speech impediments to broaden what you hear from them because they may have a lot more to say than you think. Even though it may take more time, it is important to listen to what is being said and not make the conversations so short. If you don’t understand what the person is saying, give them the respect to be heard by asking them to repeat or clarify their statement. You may be surprised to learn their interests, hobbies, or their political view. If you have any comments or feedback on the article, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.