Join the Fight Against Attack on Nonverbal Autistics’ Right to Communicate
A very disturbing issue has recently come to our attention that we believe is very important for the entire Saved By Typing family to be aware of and take action against.
We encourage everybody to get on board, to learn about the issues, and to fight the hateful propaganda and fear-mongering being used against supported typing in an attempt to deprive vital services to the people that need it the most. Please read on and consider participating in this important grass-roots effort! Help change the conversation! Share with others who may also have interest in what is basically a new civil rights issue.
Misinformed and Misleading “News Article” About Supported Typing Published by Slate.com
Last November, author David Auerbach published the article “Facilitated Communication Is a Cult That Won’t Die,” which was riddled with inaccuracies and one-sided opinions, in the online magazine, Slate.com. Why Mr. Auerbach, a software engineer with no medical or clinical background that we can find, has even written this controversial article is a mystery to us. Perhaps he has a hidden agenda we are not aware of. In any case, the misleading and often convoluted article has garnered a great deal of criticism from the ASD community.
In an effort to combat this fallacious so-called “news article,” a grassroots campaign has grown, the goal of which is to have Slate retract the article and promote accurate and positive examples of people who express themselves and communicate through typing.
The first shot against Slate’s publication of Auerbach’s article was fired by Chris Kliewer, Ph.D. from the University of Northern Iowa, and Judy Bailey, M.Ed., a consultant on Communication & Positive Behavior Supports. In an open letter they co-wrote to Slate’s editors and readers, they opened with:
On November 12, Slate published a “news article” by David Auerbach that is replete with misrepresentations, omissions, and distortions. We understand Slate to be a progressive source of information and feel the editors need to be aware of these misrepresentations.
David Auerbach distorted the positions of many individuals with disabilities and their families and attempted to discredit the work of many committed educators, researchers, and organizations involved in disability studies and disability work across the country. In addition, David Auerbach has continued to tweet a steady stream of these misrepresentations since the release of the article. He is using the Slate article as a basis for his forum.”
They then proceeded to lay out in detail all the errors in Auerbach’s article. The letter concluded with:
We hope that in the future Slate reporters are held to a higher standard of factual reporting (or are identified as editorialists). In the meantime, we expect that you will retract this article and apologize for the damage it has caused in the lives of individuals, their families, and the people throughout the country who support them.”
This was a good start, but, as far as we know, Slate has yet to respond to the letter. This means it’s time for us to fire the second shot.
To download and read the complete letter, click here. (PDF opens in new window)
A Call to Action: It’s Now Your Turn to Tell Slate About Your Displeasure
In an email we received yesterday, writer Linda Quintanilha laid out the issues and actions we can take to fight against this attack very clearly and concisely:
As you know, the right to communicate is being attacked on a consistent and dangerous new level.
To address this, a national group of concerned individuals is working on an organized campaign to change the conversation. Our first effort is to retract the recent Slate article which was riddled with inaccuracies and one sided opinions. Our aim is to ensure that Slate retracts the article and promotes accurate and positive examples of people who express themselves through typing.
Your voice and story is essential to this effort. A formal letter requesting a retraction is attached. It has been sent to Slate and outlines the inaccuracies and bullying nature of the article and follow up tweets written by David Auerbach. For this strategy to be most effective, we need 100+ individuals who type, their family members, and others who care to send Slate a letter expressing your view. Some key points might include:
- Your story about communication being essential to life
- Article did not represent your personal experience
- Damage being done to individuals who communicate differently
- Interference with first amendment right for freedom of expression
- Slate did not acknowledge new and emerging research and understanding re: autism, movement differences, and communication
- Other points you are moved to express
For maximum impact, share this request with others in your network and send letters by January 24th to:
Julia Turner Editor, Slate‘s New York office 95 Morton Street, 4th Floor, New York, N.Y., 10014. Email: email@example.com
So that we can keep track of the effort, please send a copy of your letter to Judy Bailey firstname.lastname@example.org
Please let me know if you have any questions. I can be reached by cell phone at 603.494.1183
We would also like to post your letters on SavedByTyping.com. Just attach a text file (.txt, .doc, .odt, .pdf) to an email and send it to email@example.com. We will get it published, and post it on the SBT Facebook page, as well.
It’s time to take action to combat the lies and misinformation Mr. Auerbach is trying to spread. THIS MEANS YOU!
We realize that ASD families have many responsibilities and duties that take up much of their time. Finding a free moment for oneself can often be difficult, if not seemingly impossible. But this is important! If we don’t stand up for what is right, who will? If not now, when?
Please try to find a few minutes in your busy life to sit down and write Slate a letter. Let them know that you are angry with the distorted, inaccurate views about supported typing that they are endorsing. Let them know that Mr. Auerbach’s “findings” are out-of-date and unsubstantiated by the latest research. Let them know how supported typing has improved the life of your autistic child and your family by opening the door to communication.
Individually, we may be silent, but together we can have a voice that all can hear!