Raise Expectations

Presume Competence

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, S2C, Spellers & Allies, SAANPresuming competence means to always assume that an individual has the ability to think, learn and understand regardless of their outward appearance and/or ability to communicate. During the initial conversations in Spellers & Allies meetings, spellers repeatedly brought up how important this was to them and how they felt that people all around them continue not to presume competence in the ways that they would like. For this reason, we decided to launch an online meme campaign about presuming competence.

Download and share our memes with people who you would like to teach about presuming competence. Make sure to include some of our suggested hashtags below! Print one and hang it on the wall of your classroom, practice, bedroom. Help us spread them like wildfire!

Hashtag Suggestions:


Interview Project

In our culture code we say “The purpose of our code is to create a leadership alliance between spellers and allies that follows principles of solidarity. “Nothing about us without us.” We believe that true solidarity begins and is built through relationships. For this reason, we began our advocacy by having 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 Partner). 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.