Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘stuttering and disabilities

On stage

I had the amazing experience to interview Nina G, a stuttering stand up comedian this past Friday night on stage after she performed her routine. Nina has been featured several times on my Women Who Stutter podcast and has numerous YouTube videos showcasing her comedy and disability rights activism.

When Nina told me she had booked a gig at the University at Albany, right in my backyard, I was excited to get to see her and immediately planned for that weekend. But then Nina let me know that she wanted me to interview her live for my podcast. I was beyond excited but also naturally nervous.

A few days before Nina’s performance, we spoke by phone to map out a game plan for Friday’s show. Nina shared that it was her plan to have me live interview her on stage as part of the performance. I had not figured on that. I thought I would just be interviewing her after the show.  So, I prepared some questions that I hoped would generate good discussion and crossed my fingers.

Well, Friday’s performance was a huge success. There were well over 100 people in the audience and people stayed for the whole show! There were several people who stutter in the audience as well, which was really fun.

Nina performed her comedy routine for about 30 minutes and then invited me on stage for the interview segment. Oh my gosh, it went great. We played off each other and had great dialogue going on. We recorded the audio and hopefully I will be able to use it for a future podcast episode. Nina also video recorded most of it as well.

It was such a great experience. I had never done anything like that before and it was such an adrenaline rush to be up on stage with Nina. After the interview segment, Nina invited me to remain on stage with her as she entertained questions.

After the show, a group of us went to dinner, including the two college students we met who stutter, as well as two other friends who stutter. Six of us closed a local restaurant and talked and laughed for several hours.

Thank you so much, Nina G for inviting me and including me in your show.  We did a lot of educating Friday night and helped normalize stuttering.

Nina and Pam



The International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) online conference is going on right now and can be found here.

I have a paper in the conference this year addressing the issue of whether stuttering is viewed as a disability. And who gets to make that call, the individual affected by stuttering or society?

I relate some of my experiences with talking with high school students who noted my stuttering as a disability even though I had never articulated it as a disability myself. I find it interesting that I’ve also had a boss who referred to me as having a disability when I don’t really consider myself disabled.

However, I have “ticked off” the disability box on applications and questionnaires because technically, stuttering is covered by the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) Act of 1998 and 2010.

I would love your thoughts on The Disability Question.

What do you think? Do you consider stuttering a disability? Who gets to make that determination?

This school year I am excited about the potential to offer self-advocacy groups to students transitioning from high school to college. For most students, entering college can be a rude awakening. They go from a relatively safe, structured environment to a college setting where they are expected to be independent and employ self-motivation.

Many students fail miserably at this, as they often move from a high school setting with hundreds of students to a college with thousands of students. This can be  overwhelming, especially if the student has a special need and requires assistance that they have to ask for themselves.

Lots of young people do not know how to stand up for themselves. They may feel intimidated by the process or embarrassed by the potential of being seen as different.

Right now, I am working temporarily at the same school I have been at for about 4 years. I am hoping the system will find me a permanent title, so I can go about the business of helping students navigate through high school and be ready for success in college.

I have been going around to classes this week and presenting sexual harassment prevention training. I have also let students and staff know that I hope to be providing self advocacy groups throughout the year. I explained what self advocacy is and why its an important skill to have.

I surprised myself by using my stuttering as an example. I told every class that I stutter, and what that was like for me in school NOT talking about it and being afraid to volunteer in class or let anyone know.

I shared that now as an adult, I have learned how to talk about it openly and have disclosed in the workplace. I let the students know that I ask for an accommodation. I prefer to not use the public address system in my building, for fear of having my stuttering broadcast through the building.

I told the students that I always imagined that if that happened, everyone would laugh at me. Even though that probably wasn’t true, that is what I thought, and our thoughts sometimes become our reality.

Surprisingly, as I disclosed this personal information about me with class after class, I felt great. I felt empowered and it made sense to relate a personal example of advocacy as I discussed advocacy.

And the students listened intently, and there was not one look of concern, or confusion, or anyone trying to conceal a smile or humor, which I always thought might happen.

I shared with them that now I won’t have to worry about reactions when I stutter in front of them, since I already put it out there to them.

Do you have any similar examples? Or thoughts?

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. 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 2022.
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