TASH UPDATE for Wide Release: Autonomous Press and TASH had a very encouraging meeting this morning on the topics of Communication Justice and research. TASH reaffirmed their powerful commitment to human rights and quality of life for people, which puts us clearly on the same side, and so we look forward to a fruitful partnership. Stay tuned for more detailed news about future developments soon. – 11/27/15
Following the statement from TASH regarding their official stance that they will not support or directly endorse facilitated communication, the partners at Autonomous Press have decided that we cannot do business with the organization or any representative acting in their capacity as such while this policy is in effect. As a press started by a majority autistic partnership, one whose own members type to communicate frequently, we do not feel comfortable attending, selling at, or promoting this organization or their events in any way.
We make this decision with a heavy heart. Many of us have friends on the board. In addition to that fact, though, one of our editors on Typed Words, Loud Voices, our groundbreaking anthology of typers, is herself an FC activist. She has presented at TASH to specifically address the ways she communicates and barriers caused by false and ableist skepticism leading to poorly designed and agenda-driven “studies.” We can only imagine the strain that this institutional decision has placed on her, implying as it does that TASH does not stand behind those that they invite to share their knowledge and ideas.
It is out of a desire to make our commitment to representing voices like hers, and not to privilege some forms of accommodation and some forms of communication over others, that we make this move:
Until TASH officially embraces FC and the right of all disabled persons to communicate with the methods they choose for themselves, Autonomous Press will be forced to avoid the TASH conference, withdraw outreach funding from any travel grants being used by TASH presenters applying for our assistance, and withdraw our memberships (for those of us who are members). The partners are also asking that AutPress authors who wish to present at TASH during this period, however long or short it is, do so without promoting the books they have published with us or directly tying them in to their abstracts (casual mentions are fine).
We are happy to fully embrace any organization within our community that supports and embraces our mission and the authors we represent. When an organization leaves itself open to the idea that the books, presentations, and other intellectual work by facilitated communicators are not genuine, that is the same thing as stating that they are open to the idea that we have created false or counterfeit scholarly work. It’s unfortunate, but we cannot have a relationship with organizations that take such a position and declare it to be principled.
We look forward to communication justice becoming, once again, a priority for TASH, and await a new institutional statement showing it.