Monday, November 23, 2015

Official AutPress Statement on the TASH Response to Slate

Encouraging update!

Autonomous Press and TASH had a very encouraging meeting this morning on the topics of Communication Justice and research.

TASH reaffirmed their powerful commitment to human rights and quality of life for people, which puts us clearly on the same side, and so we look forward to a fruitful partnership.

Stay tuned for more detailed news about future developments soon.

 [Ed. note: We want to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to see this statement of our principles on communication justice. So we reprint it here and invite you to reprint it on your own blog if you wish; to see the original, go here. Thank you very much for your attention, and for helping us stand strong in defense of everyone's right to communicate. -Ib]

Following the statement from TASH regarding their official stance that they will not support or directly endorse facilitated communication, the partners at Autonomous Press have decided that we cannot do business with the organization or any representative acting in their capacity as such while this policy is in effect. As a press started by a majority autistic partnership, one whose own members type to communicate frequently, we do not feel comfortable attending, selling at, or promoting this organization or their events in any way.

We make this decision with a heavy heart. Many of us have friends on the board. In addition to that fact, though, one of our editors on Typed Words, Loud Voices, our groundbreaking anthology of typers, is herself an FC activist. She has presented at TASH to specifically address the ways she communicates and barriers caused by false and ableist skepticism leading to poorly designed and agenda-driven “studies.” We can only imagine the strain that this institutional decision has placed on her, implying as it does that TASH does not stand behind those that they invite to share their knowledge and ideas.

It is out of a desire to make our commitment to representing voices like hers, and not to privilege some forms of accommodation and some forms of communication over others, that we make this move:

Until TASH officially embraces FC and the right of all disabled persons to communicate with the methods they choose for themselves, Autonomous Press will be forced to avoid the TASH conference, withdraw outreach funding from any travel grants being used by TASH presenters applying for our assistance, and withdraw our memberships (for those of us who are members). The partners are also asking that AutPress authors who wish to present at TASH during this period, however long or short it is, do so without promoting the books they have published with us or directly tying them in to their abstracts (casual mentions are fine).

We are happy to fully embrace any organization within our community that supports and embraces our mission and the authors we represent. When an organization leaves itself open to the idea that the books, presentations, and other intellectual work by facilitated communicators are not genuine, that is the same thing as stating that they are open to the idea that we have created false or counterfeit scholarly work. It’s unfortunate, but we cannot have a relationship with organizations that take such a position and declare it to be principled.

We look forward to communication justice becoming, once again, a priority for TASH, and await a new institutional statement showing it.


  1. That's an old statement from TASH. This is TASH's statement:

    The SWIFT Center and TASH’s work with the SWIFT Center does not promote facilitated communication in any way. The TASH Board acknowledges that facilitated communication has had a controversial past; is not considered evidence-based by many researchers; and a potential for harm may exist. TASH does not promote facilitated communication. Like any professional association, we welcome papers from the field on controversial topics, accepted through a rigorous peer review process, for presentation at the annual conference and for publication in the peer-reviewed journal.
    That said, individuals who independently communicate without anyone physically touching them have themselves attributed their independent communication to learning through facilitated communication. To deny their right to that claim would be to deny their right to free speech. TASH has no official position supporting facilitated communication, although we are firm in our belief that people have the right to communicate in the way they find most effective. This is a position that is consistent with federal disability rights legislation, asserting an individual’s right to use the accommodation they find most effective.
    TASH’s mission is to advance human rights and full inclusion for people with the most significant impact of disability. TASH was founded in 1975 by preeminent researchers who specialized in the education of persons with severe disabilities, and was an early leader in deinstitutionalization and inclusive education. The organization was founded on a belief that research should drive advocacy, and publishes a widely respected peer-reviewed scientific journal, Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities. The research TASH members have conducted has shaped the field and provided credibility to the values of equity, inclusion and opportunity we uphold."

  2. This is very interesting. Thanks for putting this up.