“I am thinking that speech is asinine” Narrating Complexities and Rethinking the Notion of “Independence” in Communication

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This article presents a narrative accounting of a critical interpretivist research study that sought to document the emergence of useful speech in participants who had previously been described as largely nonverbal. The purpose of this piece is to narrate this inquiry process through examination not only of our participants' own accounts of their experiences but also through critical examination of the ways in which we as researchers solicit and respond to those accounts. Our analytic gaze, therefore, focuses on the dialectic process through which we interactively co-construct concepts related to disability in our participants' experiences, alternating between narrating our own experience of this process as researchers and narrating our participants' accounts of their own experiences with this interpretive process. Discussion focuses on critique of the cultural value accorded to the notions of “independence” and “normalcy,” and on the participants' demonstration of their own agency in the complex, fluid, and constant process of managing and constructing, in concert with those around them, and often in the face of significant resistance to the process, their own positive and valued identities as competent communicators.



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