Listen 2 Us - Literacy, Self-Determination, and Interdependence for Nonspeakers


2019 United Nation's World Autism Awareness Day


This year's theme for the UN's Autism Awareness Day was Assistive Technologies, Active Participation.  The focus was on leveraging the use of assistive technologies for persons with autism as a tool in removing the barriers to their full social, economic, and political participation in society.  Also, to promote equality, equity, and inclusion.  Several self-advocates and experts were invited to speak at the UN Headquarters in New York on April 2, 2019.   Here is a link to the full program video.  The opening session address is at 5:30 minutes on the video and runs for about 20 minutes.  Here is a link to the transcript of the keynote address.

Some additional links:

UN News:  Strengthen inclusion, participation of people with autism to 'acheive their full potential' says UN Chief

Balitang America:  Raising awareness, Communication and Tech Accessibility for those with Autism

Words with Perspective:  Goal 10.  Reduced Inequalities


In the news...

2017Peabody Award for film Deej
05/22/2018Connections: Discussing the Reel Mind Theatre and Film Series
05/28/2018Bloom Blog - The film Deej upends what you think you know about disability
08/08/2018Psychology Today, “Fresh Thinking on Autism: The Documentary Film “Deej” Challenges Us All to Live Inclusion”
by Jason Tougaw
10/02/2019 The world according to DJ Savarese, Hani Elkadi, Writers Group . In celebration of Iowa City Book Festival week, we are sharing Iowa City-based artist and writer Hani Elkadi's poetic profile of author DJ Savarese. We hope you enjoy this literary endeavor.
DSQ vol.30 2010Cultural Commentary: Communicate with Me by DJ Savarese
Spring, 2017Iowa Review - Passive Plants
11/28/2018ASAN Gala Speech by DJ Savarese

Holland Bloorview Kid's Rehabilitation Hospital Bloom Blog:

  • Excerpt from the interview: The film Deej upends what you think you know about disability

BLOOM: What advice would you give to parents of a child who can’t speak, especially if they have an intellectual disability?

DJ Savarese: Visit my website at Listen2Us, and keep visiting it all summer as I finish it. Ask yourself how you can possibly know your child has an intellectual disability if you aren’t able to understand what they know. Try all kinds of communication with them: photographs, words, AAC, sign language.
Read to them a lot and ask them questions using answer banks. New ideas keep us from getting locked in our old ones.

BLOOM: Do you think we can learn from people who have intellectual disabilities? Is there value to all kinds of neurodiversity?

DJ Savarese: There is value in every person, but I reject the term "intellectually disabled." It's a figment of the ableist's limited—and limiting—imagination.

Psychology Today“Fresh Thinking on Autism: The Documentary Film “Deej” Challenges Us All to Live Inclusion” by Jason Tougaw

At its core, Deej asks viewers to be their dear selves, to become fresh thinkers, to mold the world free. I asked him in an interview what advice he has for people who want to advocate full inclusion: “Interdependence is my model. Make sure all members of the community feel needed. We all need to feel loved and included—not just nonspeaking kids. Ask yourself why sad selves can’t get free from anxiety. Learning is not hard, but it requires a sense of commitment. It’s not always easy, but we all love being a necessary part of something bigger than ourselves, and when we are, the community—and each of us—is better for it.”

Deej Highlights Interdependence, Challenges Assumptions  The Oberlin College Review, October 6, 2017