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‘The Have the Want and the Next’

This week I’ve talked about how, by and large, we in the UK are free to express ourselves as we wish, within certain broad boundaries defined by hate speech legislation, defamation law and so on. Wonderful though this may be for many of us, some UK citizens are actually denied this right. They are people who require communication aids in order to speak; without specialist equipment, they cannot exercise their right to freedom of speech.

My friend Nadia is 23 and lives in Halifax in Yorkshire. She’s a blogger and activist; she’s also deaf, and has cerebral palsy. She uses sign language and a DynaVox in order to speak (you might be familiar with the DynaVox as the machine that Stephen Hawking uses to communicate). A DynaVox costs roughly £10,000 to buy and insure; really, when you think about it, a small price to pay for a tool that allows Nads to communicate with others. Yet, her mother had to lobby the government for years for the funding to obtain a DynaVox for Nads. I know that the NHS is short of cash. I know that austerity measures are still being put in place. But really, is £10,000 too much to pay for a young person’s voice? Can you put a price on that? Recently, Nads gave a speech in the House of Commons about the importance of communication aids. She highlighted the fact that many young children who need one do not receive one. They are growing up without a voice.

If freedom of speech is a human right, then it applies to everyone, regardless of the price of the necessary aids. If you could put a price on your voice and ability to express yourself, what would it be?


The Have the Want and the Next

Protect the blue interface
I have ten thousand
Restrict the power button in four different ways
Do I hear ten thousand five?

Not visible, not verified
Do I hear ten thousand five?
Your programming is modified
I hear ten thousand five

Customize the system
I want ten thousand five
Navigate the system
I want ten thousand five
Make changes to the system
Do I hear ten thousand six?
Ten thousand six is viable
Select OK, and hold it, hold it
Turn up the volume
Until it’s undeniable.


(Poem: auctioneer’s patter text + Vmax device instruction manual)


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Image credit: Andy Kiel