About the authors
|Jenny Packer is a Speech and Language Therapist working for the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. She works with adults and children who stutter and in addition to her clinical work, is currently co-chair of the International Fluency Association’s Meetings and Conferences committee.|
|Kirsten Howells stutters and is a UK-educated Speech and Language Therapist. She has spent a number of years living and working in Norway, and currently lives in California. She is co-chair of the International Fluency Association’s Meetings and Conferences Committee, and is a member the San Jose chapter of the NSA.|
|Hanan Hurwitz is an Electronics Engineer working as Director of Quality at a global company that designs and manufactures electronic servo controls. Hanan is also a Person Who Stutters, and has stuttered since childhood. He serves on the Advisory Board of the International Stuttering Association.|
One World, Many Voices: Science and Community is the theme of the Inaugural Joint World Congress of the International Cluttering Association (ICA), International Fluency Association (IFA) and International Stuttering Association (ISA), with local host organisations the Japan Society of Stuttering and Other Fluency Disorders and the Japanese Stuttering Genyukai Organization. This event will be held in Hiroshima, Japan, in July 2018, and planning is well under way.
This exciting new collaboration between the three international organisations, and their Japanese hosts, aims to create an event that will allow everyone – people who stutter and clutter, clinicians, and researchers – to feel welcome, included and valued. We value the vision of “A World that Understands Stuttering”, and the World Congress is designed to further that goal.
Embracing all Perspectives
Some within the stuttering community perceive historical divisions between people who stutter and professionals researching or working clinically within the stuttering world. For some, these groups may appear to occupy different ‘camps’ and hold different views about and attitudes towards stuttering.
We are aiming to break down some of the barriers that can exist among these groups, encouraging mutual respect and recognition of the different pieces of the puzzle that different backgrounds and experiences can offer. Critically, it is our belief that worthwhile advances in quality of life and advocacy for those living with fluency disorders can only occur in the context of open dialogue and mutual respectful exchange among people who stutter or clutter, therapists seeking to help, and researchers seeking to understand the nature and best treatment of fluency disorders.
Discussing the Social Model of Disability
Much has been written and said over the past few years about the Social Model of Disability and its relevance to stuttering. The Social Model says that “disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people. When barriers are removed, disabled people can be independent and equal in society, with choice and control over their own lives” (scope.org.uk).
This is in contrast with the Medical Model of disability which “looks at what is ‘wrong’ with the person, not what the person needs. It creates low expectations and leads to people losing independence, choice and control in their own lives” (scope.org.uk).
Our World Congress embraces the Social Model of Disability and the empowerment of people who stutter, while at the same time recognizing that:
- Our world is far from perfect and we are a long way from understanding stuttering and other disabilities.
- People in our communities need our help, not to be fixed but to be shown ways of surviving and thriving with our disability.
We therefore do not see any contradiction between the Social Model on the one hand and research and clinical practice on the other hand. Much research and clinical practice is invested into enabling people who stutter to live the lives that we choose irrespective of whether and how much we stutter.
It’s not About Fluency
It is important to stress that the International Fluency Association (IFA) does not promote ‘fluency’ as a goal, but rather the IFA is “devoted to the understanding and management of fluency disorders, and to the improvement in the quality of life for persons with fluency disorders.” It is based on this clarification and understanding that a joint conference was proposed and accepted. The International Cluttering Association (ICA) will also join this collaboration, creating opportunities to discover similarities and differences in experiences for those who stutter and those who clutter – or both. This event will allow for a true celebration of stuttering and cluttering, building on the themes, first, of the 2016 International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conference – respect, dignity, recognition, and pride, and now of the 2017 ISAD online conference – A World that Understands Stuttering.
The Inaugural Joint World Congress of the International Cluttering Association, International Fluency Association and International Stuttering Association will be a ground-breaking initiative where historically diverse groups are cooperating effectively to explore experiences of, feelings about, and attitudes towards stuttering. We want people who stutter or clutter to feel safe and surrounded by friends. We want those who work clinically to have opportunities to share and update their skills. We want to give researchers an opportunity to present high-quality research in a stimulating environment, while simultaneously giving those who explore innovative and new approaches to living with stuttering a chance to share their experiences and ideas.
The benefit of this cooperation will be entirely mutual and shared by the PWS, the clinicians, and the researchers.
Together we are working towards achieving the vision of A World that Understands Stuttering.
For more information, follow us via social media #owmv2018, and on the websites of the individual organizations.
Join us in Hiroshima, 13th to 16th of July, 2018!
- The International Cluttering Association: http://associations.missouristate.edu/ica/
- The International Fluency Association: http://www.theifa.org/en/
- The International Stuttering Association: http://www.isastutter.org/
- Japan Society of Stuttering and Other Fluency Disorders (http://www.jssfd.org/en/index.html )
- Japanese Stuttering Genyukai Organization (http://zengenren.org/sp/ )
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