Participation by adults with lifelong disability: more than a trip to the bowling alley

Balandin S.  Molde University College, Molde, Norway. mail:  Int J Speech Lang Pathol. 2011 Jun;13(3):207-17. doi: 10.3109/17549507.2011.549569.

Community participation by people with lifelong disability is not a new concept. Yet, within the field of disability there is ongoing debate about the barriers to participation and how these can be solved. At a practical level, participation remains an issue that is often misunderstood by many who seek to promote the integration of adults with lifelong disability into the community. Community presence alone does not denote participation or integration. Furthermore, the role of the speech-language pathologist is rarely, if ever, discussed in the research into participation by people with lifelong disability. In this paper a brief overview is given of the barriers and solutions to participation by people with lifelong disability, including those with complex communication needs who use or require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Two innovative solutions, the Change Laboratory and Second Life™, are discussed. These may be useful for the speech-language pathologist to consider when seeking additional ways to support community participation by adults with lifelong disability.