Speak Out June 2019

Association news

Speech Pathology Australia at the UN

participate had a communication disability and delivered their message by use of AAC. The panel was chaired by Mr Derek Munn, Director Policy and Public Affairs at the RCSLT and a representative of the ICP. The panellists for the side event were: Ms Gail Mulcair, Chief Executive Officer, Speech Pathology Australia and ICP representative. Ms Meredith Allan, President, International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication and a person who uses AAC, Australia. Mr Miles Forma, Disability Advocate and a person who uses AAC, USA. Professor Sharynne McLeod, Charles Sturt University, and Editor of Special Issue of the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology “Communication is a Human Right: Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. Ms Julia McGeown (via video), Lead Inclusive Education and Technical Advisor, Humanity and Inclusion, UK. An invitation was extended to Mr Alastair McEwin, the former Disability Discrimination Commissioner to participate. Unfortunately, Alastair had to withdraw after finishing as the Disability Discrimination Commissioner to take up a role on the panel for the disability royal commission. The Association’s forum was one of 88 events scheduled during the COSP, which ran alongside the main conference’s, the UN General Assembly and Roundtables, and a Civil Society Forum. Gail Mulcair Chief Executive Officer

Speech Pathology Australia, in conjunction with the International Communication Project, led a delegation on communication disability at the United Nations. Speech Pathology Australia, with the support of The Royal College of Speech Language Therapists (RCLST), American Speech–Language–Hearing Association (ASHA) and the International Communication Project (ICP), hosted a dedicated side event on 12 June as part of the activities surrounding the 12th session of the Conference of State Parties (COSP) to the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The COSP was conducted at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York from 11 to 13 June 2019. The side event was titled, People with Communication Disabilities Speak Up for Inclusion and Participation: How the implementation of the CRPD and Sustainable Development Goals can support his right. disabilities with international health bodies (like the UN) and their policy makers, while gaining explicit recognition of communication disability in the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Background The CRPD was adopted by the United Nations on 13 December 2006 and came into force on 3 May 2008. Article 40 of the convention stipulates that “The State Parties shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties in order to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the present Convention”. The 12th session of the COSP had a cross-cutting theme of Awareness Raising with three sub-themes for the conference’s roundtable, involving: • technology, digitalisation and ICTs for the empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities; • social inclusion and the right to the highest attainable standards of health; • inclusion of persons with disabilities in society through participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sports. Planning The ability of Speech Pathology Australia to hold a side event at the United Nations was only realised after the Association, along with the Royal College of Speech Language Therapists (RCLST), finally secured in 2018 NGO accreditation to the Conference of State Parties to the CRPD. The planning and work for the side event has been long in the making. Final approval for the side event was only secured in May, less than eight weeks before the forum took place. The Association believes that this is the first time a side event has been held at the United Nations with the specific topic of communication disability. Conduct The side event took the form of panel of speakers, followed by a question and answer session. Two of the speakers invited to With Speech Pathology Australia being the lead organisation, it was an honour to have the event co-sponsored by the Australian Government. The aim of the event was to raise the profile and status of communication

Side event synopsis Communication is a fundamental human right and yet people with communication disability are often denied the right to “freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information” (Article 21, CRPD) and rights and freedoms regarding “communication” and “language” (Article 2, CRPD). This side event will increase awareness of this often invisible disability and discuss proposals to strengthen effective trans-national cooperation to promote a human rights-based approach to inclusion and participation. Presenters with communication disabilities and others from government and civil society will speak to the COSP sub-themes: How technology can support communication accessibility, the importance of effective communication to attain a high standard of health (and education), and the need for social inclusion and equal participation in cultural life, recreation, and leisure. The prevalence and impact of communication disability on SDGs relating to poverty, health and education will be highlighted.


June 2019 www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au

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