European League of Stuttering Associations

ELSA, Zülpicher Str. 58 D-50674 Köln, Germany
Tel. +49 221 139 1106    fax + 49 221 139 1370
ELSA, 31 Grosvenor Road, Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 2RL, Great Britain
Tel. +44 191 281 8003    fax+44 191 281 8003

ELSA Speeches and Presentations

10th November 2003

The European Parliament hosted a Disabled People's Parliament Event on 10-11 November 2003 at the Hemicycle in Brussels. The Event marked the 10th Anniversary of the United National Standard Rules and the European Year of Disabled People 2003.

ELSA was invited to this event and Anita Blom attended and gave the following presentation at the plenary session:

My name is Anita Blom and I have a disability. Many barriers have been taken away this week to make it possible for all disabled citizens to be an active participant at this important meeting. But not my barrier. One month ago my struggle started. From the day the speaking request form reached my hands I was terrified.

Weeks in advance I needed special mental and physical training. To even dare to get here. To make my way on stage. To make my speech. To not listen to the voice inside that reminds me I cannot do this. To force my body to make my disability as little as possible. For, ladies and gentlemen, I had only three minutes of speaking time. And I stutterů

Nobody knows the cause of stuttering. There is no general cure. The severity of my stutter depends not only on me, my mood, time pressure and other stress factors, it also depends on my listener. Your mood, your time pressure and your stress. My disability is not just my speech. It's my fear of showing my disability. It's my fear of speaking. My fear of rejection, shame and guilt, because my disability makes you uncomfortable and demands an effort from you as a listener.

To be given the same speaking time, just like anyone else in this audience, has nothing to do with ill-will. It is about not knowing what my disability is all about. But now, after explaining my speaking problem, my time has increased to 4 minutes. So here I stand, trying desperately to keep control of my fluency, so that I won't exceed my extended time limit. Still I am a bad example, as those who have a severe stutter cannot even say their names. Cannot even say hello and will avoid all ways of social interaction what so ever.

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