The Importance of Inclusive Measures to Enhance Communication Access

May is National Speech-Language Hearing Month and Myers and Stauffer marks this observance with a blog post authored by Alisha Golec (health care senior consultant). See what she has to say about the importance of inclusive measures to enhance communication access for all.

During National Speech-Language Hearing Month, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) shines a spotlight on communication disorders and advocates for inclusive measures to enhance communication access for all. In the realm of accessible services, programs, and support systems, individuals with disabilities often encounter numerous obstacles. While physical limitations contribute to some of these barriers, communication hurdles can also hinder individuals from fully engaging with services and support systems if they aren’t designed with accessibility in mind.

Title II: Subpart E of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) focuses on Communications, setting forth guidelines to ensure that interactions with individuals with disabilities are just as effective as those with others. This may entail states providing additional visual, tactile, and auditory communication aids and methods to accommodate those who utilize alternative communication approaches. Embracing multiple communication modalities can significantly enhance access for countless individuals with disabilities.

Barriers to communication access can be multifaceted and depending on individual acuity and experience, individuals may have different communication modality preferences. Below is a non-exhaustive list of symptoms that can have an impact on an individual’s ability to communicate and engage meaningfully in government programs and services without accommodations or inclusive design:

  • Hearing loss.
  • Vision loss.
  • Auditory processing limitations.
  • Limited working memory.
  • Limited receptive and expressive language ability.
  • Limited speech articulation ability.
  • Frequent speech dysfluencies.

Enhancing Information Accessibility

It is critical to consider the modality and the complexity of the language public entities are using when sharing information to a wide audience. Public entities must do more than offer content to the individual in their preferred communication modality to make content accessible. In government programs, the use of professional jargon and endless acronyms can make critical content inaccessible to those who do not have the same level of expertise as the authors of the information.

A powerful method for enhancing information accessibility involves minimizing the use of acronyms and specialized terminology when communicating with diverse audiences. This becomes particularly crucial when engaging individuals who may have constraints in their working memory or auditory processing abilities. Each instance of introducing an acronym or unfamiliar term necessitates the listener to pause and  process its meaning, potentially causing them to miss subsequent information being conveyed. Recognizing this challenge, adopting a language approach devoid of excessive jargon and abbreviations ensures smoother comprehension and retention of the information being shared. This is just one of many tools that can be utilized to design accessible information about programs and services.

How We Can Help

Myers and Stauffer has experienced staff members with diverse career backgrounds, including clinicians, with knowledge particularly within the fields of behavioral health and home and community-based services. Alisha Golec, a Speech-Language Pathologist on our consulting team was featured as part of a firm-wide purpose campaign to highlight the pride we feel in aiding clients to serve a wide array of populations. Alisha brings extensive expertise garnered from diverse healthcare and educational settings, where she has effectively supported individuals with complex medical needs across all age groups.

“I am a speech-language pathologist (SLP) by background, and I’ve worked in a variety of health care and educational settings. When I found the opportunity to apply my practical experience and advocate for improved care, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. I think my background in assistive technology and my former mission of making education accessible for all students gives me a unique perspective on how to help advocate now for better care outcomes for people and better provider conditions to maintain an effective workforce.”

At Myers and Stauffer, we offer expertise in supporting underserved populations and improving inclusive communication practices, and we are proud of the depth and diversity of our staff members’ expertise spanning a range of professional backgrounds and fields. For any questions about this content, please reach out to our consulting team:

Alisha Golec
Health Care Senior Consultant
PH 404.524.0775
Julia Kotchevar, MA
Director, HCBS and Behavioral Health
PH 512.340.7425