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Do you have aphasia? Do you know your rights?

Updated: Jun 10

A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights to citizens of a country. The purpose of declaring and putting these protections down in writing is to guarantee fairness and guard against infringement of these rights. But a bill or rights can exist for other purposes and other groups.

A Bill of Rights was created specifically for people who experience aphasia by the National Aphasia Association in 2005. It serves to provide transparency for individuals who experience communication changes. It is an effort to ensure equality in treatment of all persons receiving medical care, regardless of their disability, in this case a communication impairment. This Bill or Rights ensures people are notified of their condition (especially important when aphasia is a new diagnosis), their rights to treatment and connects individuals and families with helpful resources. As a medical speech language pathologist for 19 years, I can attest the need for documenting and referring to your Aphasia Bill of Rights.

If you left the hospital with a communication change that was not adequately addressed, this is for you. If you left the hospital without an explanation of why you were struggling to communicate, this is for you. If you are trying to find resources for someone in your life who is struggling to communicate, this is also for you.

Aphasia Bill of rights

The Aphasia Bill of Rights

(reposted from NAA)

People with aphasia have the right to:

1. Be told, as soon as it is determined, preferably by a qualified speech language pathologist (SLP), both orally and in writing, that they have “aphasia” and given an explanation of the meaning of aphasia.

2. Be provided, upon release from the hospital, with written documentation that “aphasia” is part of their diagnosis.

3. Be told, both orally and in writing, that there are local resources available to them, including Aphasia Community Group

s in their areas, as well as national organizations such as the National Aphasia Association (NAA).

4. Have access to outpatient therapy to the extent deemed appropriate by a qualified speech-language pathologist (SLP).

5. Give their informed consent in any research project in which they are participating.

6. Demand that accrediting health care agencies and health care facilities establish requirements for and competency in caring for people with aphasia.

7. Have access to information in their most functional language through a qualified professional, or through an interpreter and/or printed material, and access to culturally sensitive services when the person with aphasia speaks a language different from English and/or is from an ethnically/culturally diverse background.

The Aphasia Bill of Rights and a library of resources for persons with aphasia, caregivers and SLPs can be found on the National Aphasia Association website.

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