Everyone has the right to be heard. This is stated by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. People with disabilities constitute a vulnerable group who often depend on others to communicate, participate and develop as human beings. The work of the Nordic Network on Communicative Relations is aimed at helping people exercise their right to communicate by their own specific means.
According to the Ombudsman for Children in Sweden, research shows that children with disabilities cannot make their voices heard to the same degree as other children. The right to communicate can be viewed from several perspectives, such as ethics, law, democracy, education and health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), communication is one of the highest rated areas when it comes to quality of life, participation and health. But the right to communicate is not the same as being able to communicate. It may be difficult for people in the surroundings to identify expressions and understand these as form of meaningful communication.
When meeting people with congenital deafblindness, communication is often the biggest challenge. Creating the best communicative conditions means increasing the competence of the communication partner to identify meaning and expressions.
When people in the surroundings lack competence, it is easy to miss important expressions or dismiss them as “behaviours” without any connection to the context.
The work of the Network on Communicative Relations includes:
- Highlighting deafblindness as an educational example since the complexity in this group is high. However, experience and strategies can also be used in other areas of disability where reading expressions is a challenge.
- Case studies with video analysis based on content and models in the book Communicative Relations. Through this way of working, knowledge is developed so that communicative processes and relationships can be developed in meetings with people with congenital deafblindness.
- Video analysis that emphasises the linguistic development of people with deafblindness, which is documented in writing in an upcoming book.
- Developing materials and holding conferences and courses.
- Inspiring and motivating, and disseminating knowledge in the national networks, which in turn give the Nordic network an important link to practice as part of mutual exchange.