Overcoming my speech impairment


Out of all my impairment related difficulties I have, my most challenging is my speech impairment. This is something I have needed to overcome all my life. I believe I have been extremely successful in how I manage my impairment although it has remained a key component in my impairment identity and something I had to embrace with pride.

On a practical level, the easiest way of overcoming my speech impairment is simply not talking. The improvements in technology over the years has made the need to talk much less with emails, texting, instant messaging and so on. I now only use of phone as a last resort when other methods are unavailable and only with the assistance of my personal assistant.

When I do need to talk, I prefer to speak unaided as most people can understand most of what I say if they are willing to try, which is sadly sometimes not the case. When this option is not working, the next solution is to use my personal assistant to translate what I am saying as I am saying it. I now do this at most of my meetings, especially my important ones, so I am sure I am heard and I can say more as opposed to sticking with terms I believe people will understand better, which can make me appear blunt.

My final option as a last resort, or in very noisy environments, is using a special app on my iPad as a communication aid. The aim of this solution is to support my speech and help listeners who are having issues understanding specific words or phrases. I am not amused when people do not bother to try to listen to me when they know I have my iPad as a communication aid, and I will not simply play ball as I demand they at least try to listen to me.

In understanding the limits of the social model, I acknowledge that with all the things society and I can do to limit the effects of my speech impairment, it is still a part of my identity and people who I meet face to face will have a psycho-social response to it. My speech, along with my jerky movements, still puts me in the realms of being a freak, where many other impairments have now been accepted into the social norm.

Being a freak is not a criticism but an observation, and a status that comes with the power of fear and embarrassment. People do not often know what to do when they meet me and that gives me the opportunity to guide the interaction. They often have no previous social norms in meeting someone like myself, and so in their confusion, I can dictate the norms I want to be used. It is a power that few people understand or able to consciously utilise.

The disadvantage of the appearance that my speech impairment provides is that many people assume that I have a learning difficulty to some degree. This can be very frustrated from me, especially as I know I am often the superior intelligent being in the relationship as a matter of fact, although I hope I do not come across as arrogant, I believe I am no more or no less equal than anyone else. When someone has made their mind up you have a learning difficulties, the only way to prove your intelligence is sarcasm as anyone can be programmed to say a list of achievements where making people laugh spontaneously requires great skill.

I would never wish my speech impairment away as I have built my whole personality and skills set around it, when you are very different, you have to play the game differently to succeed to shine my strengths and turn my weaknesses into what makes me strong. I believe I have embraced my speech impairment and turned it into an advantage.

Why do many people perceive me as having learning difficulties?

I think to start this piece, I believe it is important for me to clarify that I have nothing against people who have learning difficulties, but it is not something I personally have. It would be like a straight person being mistaken as gay, it does not mean they have a problem with gay people. In many ways, because I experience the specific discrimination many people with learning difficulties face, I may have a better appreciation. This would be exactly like the straight person who is mistaken as gay experiencing homophobia.

My intelligence is my biggest asset and it has been my escape route from social dependency and simply existing, as opposed to thriving as I do.  This is why I can become sensitive when I feel my intelligence is being undermined. I know my physical appearance as someone with jerky movements, speech impairment, and someone who drools, leads many people to assume I have learning difficulties. I also know wearing a helmet, a choice I have made, also does not help the situation.

People assume having a learning difficulty means you do not understand things around you, you are unable to make complex decisions and basically you are stupid. The thing is people with learning difficulties are not stupid, they just process things differently. So even if I had learning difficulties, I would find their behavior inappropriate and offensive. When you understand that I am often far more intelligent than those who believe me to be stupid and slow, you can begin to see my frustration. If I could speak all the words in my head, without having to simplify them so others can understand my speech, I could shred patronising people into neat pieces before they knew what was happening.

I have discovered the only way to prove intelligence is dry comedy or personal insults. Everyone can learn positive phrases to repeat like parrots. If I start to list my many achievements, people can just assume it is all in my imagination as I can’t really evidence any of it. And saying I do not have learning difficulties simply sounds I am being over-sensitive as it is evident to them I have. But being able to make someone laugh by making a witty observation of something immediately happening, as opposed to a poorly delivered rehearsed joke, takes intelligence.

Personal insults, as oppose to simple swearing, based on someone’s characteristics, is harder than it looks and shows great intelligence. It is not a technique I generally use, but I have a friend who is non verbal and uses it often, especially when he is managing is personal assistants. It is more banter than anything else, and a way to show his personality.

It is hard not to make assumptions as everything we do is based on assumptions. We assume a door with a sign with a man on it is a male toilet. The trick is knowing what assumptions comes from the evidence we have, and what assumptions we have made that actually lack evidence or it is from false evidence. Do the general public need to know whether or not someone has learning difficulties if that individual can perform the activities they need to do, like travel on a bus? People can assume I have a speech impairment because it can be seen, but they can not conclude that means I have learning difficulties.

Having my intelligence being undermined has been a lifelong struggle, and one that is likely to continue for many more years, mainly because of my speech. I can just hope slowly and carefully, the public understand of the issue will increase.

– If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

My stance of Human Rights and the UN Investigation


I wanted to clarify my stance on Human Rights after a recent discussion on the apparent UN Investigation into yet to be confirmed accusations of possible breaches of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

OK, I have been involved with the Council of Europe Youth Directorate since the 1990s, and its Human Rights education programme. I really value Human Rights has the backbone of a civilised society. Basic Human Rights are ‘basic’ and I believe they are something within an international context, it is something the general public should not need to worry about. 

I am not suggesting there is ever no issues on human rights in the UK, but we must acknowledge the quality of life, and legal protection afforded to British Citizens is far higher than in many countries.

I believe human rights were envisaged in the late 1940s, to avoid the appalling treatment people experienced in World War 2. But sixty years on, the basics of human rights are being re-interpreted and bend fit into the agendas of individuals and organisations.

Therefore I have not doubt that this UN investigation is politically motivated, because I do not feel this government’s actions will be judged in comparison to the high standards in terms of disability it has set in the world, and the appalling treatment disabled people face in so many other countries./

The apparent double standard demonstrates how the UN is like many organisations, paper pushing and making judgements on the lived experiences of disabled people based on the viewpoint of a unknown complainant on matters that I believe will be reported in a misleading year, like the number of disabled people being affects by the bedroom tax, which will be smaller than portrayed, or the apparent ‘inhuman’ treatment from ATOS without a single police report or documented evidence, other than hurt feelings. The fact the investigation is in secret is an insult to the principal of ‘nothing without us’ and those who defend this should seriously question their morals.

If the UN was serious about human rights of disabled people, it was allow itself to become a political weapon for a militant attack on the welfare policies, where disability issues have been hijacked and terms to an argument for socialism, as oppose to improving the lives in disabled people on the ground. Like most big charities, the welfare reform is just a game to many organisations and institutions with dinner table politics.

Why is the UN not challenge the begging in New York or the many countries who have absolutely no support systems for disabled people? And what would the report achieve other than simply be used to permit socialist groups for further terms disability into one issue, poverty of the working class. Meanwhile the live experiences of the majority of disabled people is ignored, totally, as our twelve needs is reduced to one, money. I feel the UN is being used to upheld the principles of exclusion based on medical model prejudices.

Whatever problems SOME impairment groups are experience, particularly in terms of crisis related poverty, can only be solved by major changes in how we see sick and disabled people, and the mechanisms we put in to lift people how of poverty by truely valuing their capabilities and assets, not this current tokenism peddled by the institutions who profit from keeping disabled people disempowered.

Getting the UN to smack the government little botty like a naught child for upsetting a few disabled people who are stressed with the hardships so many people have to get on with, because to pulls the heart strings and moral indignities for a prejudiced chattering classes, is unlikely to achieve anything positive. Instead, it is more like to make the government did it heels in and keep the hostile environment created by both sides, ensuring sanctions and the rest of it will stay, whether its a Tory, Coalition or Labour government.

We need to celebrate human rights but also acknowledge our responsibilities to society, family and community. If human rights is used to overturn democracy as a new secret international government, it will be distrusted and this will play into the hands who those who want to scrap the basic human rights that we value by not having to worry out them.

DPAC and me!


It is clear to me that there is a love/hate relationship between DPAC and myself, they hate me and I love the fact I annoy them! I admit that I have made myself an easy target for their attacks, ut I am quite happy with position I have taken with them.

I have spent the last few months working hard building bridges with people I respect who I have previously upset or offended, and I feel honoured to now regard many of them friends, which I believe and hope is mutual. DPAC is an ‘organisation’ I am very unlikely ever to want to get on with, and their recent childish antics at the recent DRUK conference on the future of independence living demonstrated the loony left dinosaurs they are as they behaved like they were at a trade union conference as oppose to an opportunity to shape the future, something they are not interested in.

They made openly criticism of my Achieve Support report but I am sure they have not bothered to read it. Their attitude is simply because I support the closure of the Independent Living Fund, to improve the quality of independent living people have, everything I say must be bad and I have to be a government controlled Tory voting traitor, despite making clear I support Labour!

The real issue between DPAC and myself is the difference ideology of collectivism and individualism. They believe change comes from disabled people coming together and working as a single group, who can not breath without a motion being proposed and seconded, and carried with a two thirds majority!

I believe that real change comes from the inspiration and determination of individuals who are willing to be subversive in they behaviour and push change, leading a revolution, including the creation of collectives. I believe that change has to come from leaders, like myself. I do not agree with their collective approach and they do not like the fact I am a lone ranger, unable to be controlled and unwilling to obey the rules of being disabled according to them.

This article has not been written in anger or frustration but as just a honest perspective of the conflict. I am sure members of DPAC and their ‘brothers and sisters’ in the disability community will read this article and be unable to be as philosophical, possibly writing long responses detailing what a bad person I am, falling into the trap of showing their inability to move on! 

I am doing great


After a year where work has been difficult, things are finally picking up. I have been building a lot of bridges and a number of things, including the publication of my ‘Achieve Support’ report has meant that my profile has increased in a positive way. I can put the ATOS incident of last summer behind me, and concentrate on moving forward and this is great.


The last few weeks, new opportunities has come my way and everything seems to be in the right place in my life. I also feel I am now regarded as a respected player to the future of disability politics, especially as more understand my viewpoint.


I love where I am in my life at the moment and where I am going.


If you like what I say, have a look at my site at www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74, or even leave me feedback on +44 (0)121 364 1974 or email simon@simonstevens.com  


Getting Paid is Hard


It would be argued that in terms of my social network, my experience and expertise, and my political influence, I am nearing the top of my game and I am certainly well known and I think well respected by my peers, despite my controversial nature. The problem I have always faced in getting paid what I am worth and this has been problem made worst by the recession, especially since I am providing a non-essential business service.


I could be as powerful as I wanted but that does not necessarily pay the bills, and this is what remains frustrating. Like a sea turtle, I lay my many eggs in the hope one may hatch. never knowing which one that may be, and while I get some work, I am still waiting for that golden egg that will give me enough work to set me up for this.


I know I am not the only one in this situation, but that still does not make it very easier!


If you like what I say, have a look at my site at www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74, or even leave me feedback on +44 (0)121 364 1974 or email simon@simonstevens.com  


Getting serious


I know it has been quite a while since I last wrote a blog, and this is because the last few months has been busy as I been preparing things in the background. This has included building bridges with people I have offended in the past because I realised for my benefit of myself, and everyone else, and move forward, working with as many people as I can. I am proud to now consider some of the people I did not get on a few weeks and months ago as friends and colleagues.


With my ’Achieve Support’ report in its draft stage, something you will be hearing a lot about in the next few weeks, months and hopefully years, it is time to get serious in my work. I am still working hard to find creditable sustainable paid work, something that is frustrating but I am a very very long way from giving up, and my determination, confidence and drive grows day by day. I am building a powerful informal next generation structure around me that will make it possible to achieve what I desire.


So watch this space as I keep my readers posted on the exciting stage of my journey.


If you like what I say, have a look at my site at www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74, or even leave me feedback on +44 (0)121 364 1974 or email simon@simonstevens.com  


I do not mind being unpopular


This has been the week some readers may know where my apparent nemesis, Sue Marsh, has made a very big deal about the fact she got thrown off the panel of a Channel 5 live slanging match on benefit reforms, where in her own words, her ‘supporters’, appear to be referring to it as the scandal of the century! I therefore found it interesting that in the midsts of her whirlwind destiny with fame, she had time and felt the need to stick her tongue out at me in a tweet, saying she was more popular than I was.


It is becoming increasingly clearer that Sue and myself are opposite leaders to an ideological and moral compass. While I campaign for inclusion and equality as an experienced disability and inclusion activist on a fundamentally uncompromising belief in the human potential of everyone no matter their situation, she is a medical model welfare campaigner with very little and understanding of disability issues. While I am an experienced consultant in the field with many 1000s of stories guiding me, she is a ’Not in my backyard’ protestor, campaigning for her little community of sick people who have not yet come to terms with their situation.


But the first thing that occurred to me was that from her tweet was who said I wanted to be popular? Surely I am the most unpopular people according to her community? I said what I believe and I do not care who hears it. I have very happy with who I am and what I believe. I have close friends and people who respect what I say, but I do not need continuous reassurances that I am wondering. I have a strong twitter, Facebook and Linkedin following because I am a major player in the disability scene, and I want that recognition, and I am under no illusion that anyone who follows me in automatically my friend. I have been back slapped in the past, to realise those who do it are full of false promises, about maybe Sue will have to find this out herself.


I believe I am a true campaigners because I do not need supporters to keep me focused on my mission, although I welcome the assistance of anyone. Those who make the biggest difference to society are never popular when they are doing it and I have taken that on board.


If you like what I say, have a look at my site at www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74, or even leave me feedback on +44 (0)121 364 1974 or email simon@simonstevens.com  


I stand by what I say


I am aware a vocal minor of my twitter followers because i am just being controversial to cause a reaction but I do actually stand by what I say and happy to explain anything to the nth degree if someone would give me a chance. I have my own opinion and I am not a sheep who simply reacts in the way I am expected because all disabled people ’must be socialists’. It is other people who can not rational their hatred of ATOS but simply demand pity for disabled people, and if you refuse to accept their prejudiced reaction, they are the bullies who the beat the living daylights out of anyone who disagree with them with peer pressure.


I am not a bully, I am not angry or bitter, and I am not a Tory and I am not a criminal because I believe disabled people have the right to exist and responsibility to be fully contributing citizens. I am passionate and I will say what I see and what I believe and if people do not like that, I am sorry because that is their problem. Too many people are pretending to be activists, especially people they think they are disabled, and this gives have a justification for the prejudices they have for disabled people, including themselves as too many disabled people hate themselves and feel it is a crime to be positive about who they are. They do not want equality or inclusion but simply pity and cold hard cash. They use twitter like a middle class party of fake talks and popularised hatred of the government to hide their hatred of disabled people.


If people say ’they would love to work but…’, its means they have decided they will refuse to work because they think by ‘being disabled’, which they are probably not, they have an excuse not to do anything as they see the label as nothing more than a meal ticket. It is not ATOS who is killing disabled people, but it is the welfare activists who deliberately lie to disabled people in the hope they commit suicide. The reason for this is they are no real evidence of cuts and so need to murder people to have something to complaint about. I am angry that newspapers like the Guardian are involved in the mass murder which everyone is so proud about, dancing on the graves on the people they kill, simply because of an infantile hatred of David Cameron.


There is a live benefits debate on Channel 5 and I am sure the so-called disabled people asked to speak/moan/whinge will do an excellent job in tripling the suicide rate amongst disabled people with their nasty lies, especially as many welfare activists think real disabled people, those they feel sorry for as profoundly disabled, are better off dead, especially if it means more money for the work shy. I will not watch this neo-nazi disgrace as it is time people realise the government is protecting the rights of disabled people from the patronising neonazis masking as welfare activists who would ban all disabled people from working and kill us when the money runs out. The inclusion of disabled people is being lost because no one other than myself is confronting these prejudiced ‘activists’ and exposing them for the real traitors of disabled people they are as they use bedroom tax, food banks and the people they murder simply to attack a government and because they are angry and annoyed disabled people might actually gain equality as they are furious that ATOS is not writing off all disabled people as worthless, like they think we are.


I am happy to name and shame, and the leaders is the nasty work shy movement know who they are and please understand this is a war few people understand and I refuse to play nice with people who deep down think I am better off dead by their prejudices actions, however much they pretend otherwise. I always stand by what I say,


If you like what I say, have a look at my site at www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74, or even leave me feedback on +44 (0)121 364 1974 or email simon@simonstevens.com  


A new look for a new year


During my rather excellent Christmas Holiday, I had time to really think about what brands and whole general image of a self-employed disability consultant and now ‘controversial inclusion activist’. I had not changed my colours for each brand in over 5 years and with all the websites I look at all day, I believed it was time I refreshed my colours, and that is exactly what I have done and can be seen gradually on my website.


This is only the first stage of what is going to be a major exercise to revamp and refresh my whole image, my website with new in-depth information to what I do, and some detailed refreshing of my brands. So please do watch this space as you see a transformation happen between your eyes.


If you like what I say, have a look at my site at www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74, or even leave me feedback on +44 (0)121 364 1974 or email simon@simonstevens.com