Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Accessible Communication is Not

If you speak ironically, and then refuse to clarify whether a statement is sarcastic or genuine, your communication is not accessible.

If you are unwilling to explain a concept when someone takes longer to understand it than you might, your communication is not accessible.

If you are asked to slow down, to repeat yourself, to define a term that is not understood, or to stop joking and speak seriously, and you meet this request with contempt, your communication is not accessible.

If you deliberately mislead anyone for the purpose of amusing yourself or others with their gullability, your communication is not accessible (and you are also an asshole).

I'm tired of people who fill every conversation with impassible cognitive barriers.

I'm tired of having to use all of my brainpower just to figure out whether I am being manipulated or told the truth.

I'm tired of the idea that believing another person is a character flaw, an invitation to victimize, a sign of an embarrassingly unsubtle mind.

I'm tired of the assumption that because we're all at college, we can all speak on this distorted and sophisticated plane of half-truths and true lies, and surely we will all understand each other because anyone too dumb to navigate this level of language would never have got here in the first place.


  1. This was brilliant. One of the most beautiful things I've ever read.

  2. You just took me right back to my school days. How do you make people understand that sometimes you are mute because conversation is just not accessible?

  3. Hi eaucoin!

    It's very rare for me to have difficulty producing speech, so I generally don't get in that situation. In terms of explaining my communication needs to people, I haven't found a really good way yet. I often try to be straightforward and say things like:

    "I really don't understand what you're saying."
    "Could you explain that some more?"
    "I can't tell whether you're being sarcastic -- did you mean that?"

    Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't.

    One thing I have found is that some people enjoy deceiving others and will actively try to convince you that their sarcastic statements were genuine, especially if everyone BUT you realizes you're being fooled. These people are just jerks and I still have no idea how to deal with them.

  4. Just saw this on Fuck Yeah Autism Spectrum and I LOVE IT. You are amazing and awesome and I bow at your feet and everyone should read this.

  5. Oh wow Kathryn! I'm super flattered! I always see your stuff around the internet and it's so cool and wow. Thanks!