Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘stuttering advocacy

Yet another good workshop I attended at the recent NSA conference in Dallas was on workplace advocacy for those who stutter. The workshop was facilitated by two individuals who are working on a committee with me to increase workplace advocacy efforts and reduce the stigma of stuttering in the workplace. Hope is a speech language pathologist and a candidate for a doctoral degree and John is a person who stutters who has had great success in the workplace.

The workshop focused on audience discussion about what ideas we as a community have for reducing stigma around stuttering in the workplace. People came up with a lot of good ideas that our NSA committee will try to implement over the coming months.

The workshop also provided some statistics on stuttering and labor market outcomes. Both men and women who stutter made at least $7,000 less in annual earnings than men and women who don’t stutter. For women who don’t stutter, some evidence indicates the gap in earnings may be as large as $18,000. Those are big differences and certainly warrant increased workplace advocacy efforts.

The most common suggestion people made in the workshop was around networking. People who stutter believe that our networks will help us find jobs and that is true. Everyone, stutterer or not, should talk to people they know in the field, get references and recommendations and use networks such as LinkedIn to help with the job search process.

But I think there is more that needs to be done around workplace advocacy for stuttering. My vision is that employers understand stuttering and teach employees about stuttering just as they do about other differences in diversity and inclusion training. My hope is that the NSA will become a resource and support network for employers, not just for employees that stutter. More to come on that as our committee continues to expand our vision and sink our teeth into tangible outcomes for advocacy.

What are your thoughts on workplace advocacy for people who stutter? Do you think employers will find it useful to receive guidance and training from the NSA? How do you think we should go about doing that?

 

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I had the opportunity to speak on Saturday via Skype at the Irish Stammering Association’s annual National Stammering Awareness Day event in Dublin, Ireland. I was asked to be a keynote speaker during their full day conference style event and speak on the theme of this year’s ISAD, “Spread The Word – Educate, Cooperate, Communicate.”

I wondered what I could speak about that would best convey how I have spread the word about stuttering awareness. Purpose came to mind.

I remember when I attended my first FRIENDS conference in 2008 and I realized that stuttering can actually have purpose. FRIENDS is the association for young people who stutter. It is a parent driven group that is all about support for young people who stutter and their parents.

I learned about purpose after hearing parents tell me how happy they were that I had come to the conference and shared myself and stories with them. For the first time in many years, I realized that my stuttering could be bigger than just me. That I could use it to spread the word and educate others about stuttering, if I dared.

After that FRIENDS conference, I became a real advocate for stuttering awareness. I had articles written in the local newspapers, organized several stuttering events in the community and began visiting middle schools to educate kids who don’t stutter on what stuttering is and tied it into teasing and bullying prevention. Doing these types of awareness activities became bigger for me than my stuttering.

So, that’s what I spoke about at the Irish Stammering Awareness event on Saturday – purpose. How a sense of purpose can be bigger than you and how my desire to help others has kind of transcended my own stuttering.

I shared with the group about the advocacy activities that I do and challenged them to consider doing similar. It was a great experience, even with some technology disruptions. I felt honored to have been asked to share my story and to talk about purpose. Here’s a picture of me as we were just getting started.

Pam at NSAD


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2017.