Charles Sturt expert advocates at UN for communication rights

1 JULY 2019

Charles Sturt expert advocates at UN for communication rights

A Charles Sturt University speech and language acquisition expert has presented research at a special meeting at the United Nations in New York advocating that communication is a human right for everyone, including those with communication disability

  • Charles Sturt promotes communication disability advocacy at UN
  • Communication is a human right, including for those with communication disability
  • Communication disability is often invisible, however, solutions abound

A Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) speech and language acquisition expert has presented research at a special meeting at the United Nations (UN) in New York advocating that communication is a human right for everyone, including those with communication disability.

Professor of Speech and Language Acquisition in the Charles Sturt School of Teacher Education in Bathurst, Sharynne McLeod (pictured), who was a member of the Australian delegation, said, “Communication disability is often invisible, however, solutions abound.

“There is much that can be done to reduce the impact of communication disability, and to enable people to fully participate in society.”

On Wednesday 12 June Professor McLeod delivered a presentation to the ‘side event’ hosted by Speech Pathology Australia, the Australian Government, and the International Communication Project at the United Nations 12th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (CRPD) at the UN Headquarters in New York.

“Our event was titled ‘People with communication disability speak up for inclusion and participation: How the implementation of the CRPD and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can support this right’,” Professor McLeod said.

“The primary modes of communication are speaking, listening, reading, and writing in the dominant language of the community.

“In this International Year of Indigenous Languages, we need to think about communication more broadly − in any language, ‘regardless of frontiers’, because there are many more dimensions to communication.

“For example, speech includes speech sounds, intelligibility, voice, fluency; and language includes vocabulary, grammar, sentences, conversation and discourse.

“If you have difficulty with these areas, you may have a communication disability.”

Professor McLeod invited the United Nations audience to lessen the invisibility of people with communication disability.

“I invite you to: ‘acknowledge’; ‘adjust’ your communication; and ‘take time’ to use your ‘listening ears’ as we seek solutions to support inclusion and participation of all people – to change communication disability to communication ability,” she said.

Professor McLeod presented solutions highlighted in the special issue of the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology on communication rights, for which she was the editor.

Professor McLeod and her colleagues from Speech Pathology Australia had worked towards this UN presentation since 2016.

This included collaboration and meetings with the International Communication Project, and meetings with the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Australian Government (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Department of Social Services).


Media contact:

Bruce Andrews, 0418 669 362


Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Professor Sharynne McLeod, contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or via news@csu.edu.au

Charles Sturt University’s Professor Sharynne McLeod is an elected Life Member of Speech Pathology Australia, elected Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, author of 10 books and 200 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters. Her Multilingual Children’s Speech website has free resources in over 60 languages. In 2018, she was the editor of the highly downloaded special issue of the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology celebrating communication rights and was named Australia’s Research Field Leader in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.

The link to the event on UN TV is here: http://webtv.un.org/watch/people-with-communication-disability-speak-up-for-inclusion-and-participation-how-the-implementation-of-the-crpd-and-the-sdgs-can-support-this-right-cosp12-side-event/6047514452001/

More details about the event are found on the International Communication Project website.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the UN General Assembly by its resolution 61/106 on 13 December 2006. It came into force on 3 May 2008 and by 2019 had been ratified by 178 States Parties (countries).

Article 40 of the Convention stipulates, “The States 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 States Parties took place at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, from 11 to 13 June 2019.

Themes of the 12th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (CRDP) 11-13 June 2019:

Overarching theme:

  • Ensuring inclusion of persons with disabilities in a changing world through the implementation of the CRPD

Sub-themes for the three round table discussions:

  • Technology, digitalization and ICTs for the empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities
  • Social inclusion and the right to the highest attainable standard of health
  • Inclusion of persons with disabilities in society through participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sports

Cross-cutting theme:

  • Awareness-raising
Twitter: @SharynneMcLeod  @UN  #COSP12  #SpeakUp4CommRights  @SpeechPathAus   @IcommunicationP  @IJSLP


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