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Active citizenship and aquired neurological communication difficulty

Mackenzie, Catherine and Bennett, Amanda and Cairney, Melissa (2011) Active citizenship and aquired neurological communication difficulty. Disability and Rehabilitation, 33 (3). pp. 187-194. ISSN 0963-8288

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People with communication impairments may face barriers to civic participation, with resulting marginalisation of individuals who wish to be actively involved. The investigation aimed to explore the experience of civically engaged adults with acquired neurological communication difficulties. Six people with acquired neurological communication difficulties were interviewed. Discussion included the definition of active citizenship, their civic involvement, motivations, related barriers and facilitators. Qualitative analysis was undertaken, with data categorised, coded and examined for recurring themes. All participants were active in disability-related organisations and four undertook wider civic roles. Motivations included activity being outwith the home and wanting to effect change for themselves and the populations they represented. Disability group meetings were more positive experiences than broader community activities, which were associated with fatigue and frustration, commonly resulting from communication difficulties and unmet support needs. All participants identified a need for professional and public educational about disability and communication and made recommendations on content, methods and priority groups. For these participants civic engagement had positive and negative dimensions. Speech and language therapists should promote reduction of the barriers that impede the active citizenship rights of people with communication support needs. Civic participation may be a relevant measure of outcome in communication impaired populations.