We started our conversations with each other with these goals in mind:
- to learn about each other
- to hear what kinds of advocacy were important to the nonspeaking members of our group
- to begin to teach ally members about solidarity
In-depth conversations between nonspeaking people and speaking people of the same age group rarely happen. We believe that taking the time to get to know nonspeaking, unreliably speaking, and minimally speaking people and nurturing genuine relationships is essential to building the leadership alliance and advocacy that we envision. Inspired by StoryCorp where strangers are brought together to have deep and meaningful conversations, we borrowed questions from StoryCorp that would get us beyond small talk and ignite our relationships and advocacy work. We called this our Interview Project.
Through these conversations, allies learned to wait for nonspeakers to spell their thoughts and to reassure spellers to take their time to spell, that their thoughts were valuable and worth the wait. Allies also learned to speak directly to nonspeaking members rather than to their speaking CRPs (Communication Regulation Partners). Nonspeaking members learned that allies are listening to us. To have a relationship means to be respectful and patient.
Following our conversations, we looked at what themes stood out across all of our conversations. We discovered that we shared a vision of change, that we all have skills to bring to our advocacy work, and that we believe presuming competence is one of the first and most important steps to our advocacy work. From this, our presuming competence meme campaign was born.
Enjoy these snapshots of our early conversations in our advocacy journey. Get to know the members of the Spellers & Allies Advocacy Network and imagine a different world with us.