How To Improve Aphasia Awareness

Ways to improve awareness of aphasia in your community (after Mackie et al., 2002):

  • According to Elman and her colleagues (2000), aphasia is under-represented in the media, yet most people who do know about aphasia learn about it from newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and the movies (Code et al., Simmons-Mackie et al., Code et al, in press).
  • Use the word ‘‘aphasia’’ to describe aphasia!
    Frequently professionals and the media avoid the word aphasia because people do not know what it is, compounding the problem. Encourage and support people with aphasia, their family members and friends in promoting public awareness.
  • Public awareness campaigns, self-advocacy programmes and self-help groups are means of promoting awareness and advocacy.
    For example, in the UK Speakability promotes Aphasia Awareness Week in June, and in the USA, June is recognized by the government as National Aphasia Awareness month and promoted by the National Aphasia Association (NAA).
  • The NAA and Speakability provide advocacy kits and resources to help you promote awareness in your community.
    Bombard the media with public service announcements and human-interest stories. Targeting awareness at the media offers the best hope for eradicating stigma because of its power to educate and influence public opinion.
  • Identifying interesting ‘‘hooks’’ that will evoke media attention or soliciting help from public figures to build awareness are methods of attracting media attention to aphasia.
  • Look for public venues to educate the public such as placing posters in public locations, providing educational materials at health fairs, or presenting lectures to community groups (e.g., churches, police/fire departments, rotary clubs) to make aphasia something interesting and meaningful to them.
  • Involve students in aphasia advocacy. It is important that professionals recognize the responsibility to those who create their livelihood. Enlisting student participation in advocacy efforts provides early experience in this important aspect of service.
  • Influence public policy and political action. Grassroots efforts at influencing public policy can also impact public perceptions and knowledge of aphasia.
  • Survey your local community’s knowledge of aphasia! For copies of resources (survey questionnaire, surveyor training, etc,) get in touch with Chris Code, University of Exeter (c.f.s.code@exter.ac.uk).