Bill of Rights and Responsibilities of People Who Stutter


Established in 2000, the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for People who Stutter is a joint project by people who stutter, professional clinicians and researchers. It provides a framework for building a more humane, just, and compassionate world for the millions of people who stutter.

In our society, speech is considered one of the most important means for interpersonal communication. While other means, such as written language, may be superior at times in conveying the content of messages, spoken language not only contains the content, but also includes information about the speaker’s intent, emotions, personality, and perceptions. That is why people who read books still like to attend readings by authors of these books, and why millions of dollars are being spend developing tools that allow for automatic voice recognition systems and the incorporation of voice and images in electronic communication.

Unfortunately, the window that speech provides on the speaker’s self, also can lead to stereotypical perceptions of people with speech disorders that go well beyond their speech difficulties.

While spoken word is taken for granted by most, the use of spoken language is challenging for millions of people who stutter around the world. It is estimated that approximately 1%, or 60 million, of the 6 billion people with whom we share this world, stutter. For many of these individuals, daily communication is a constant struggle. For many of them, speech does not open doors but closes them for interpersonal, academic and professional development and fulfilment. Despite advances in our understanding of stuttering and its treatment, many people who stutter around the world do not have access to the services and support they deserve.

This Bill is written to foster attitudes and actions whereby individuals who stutter are provided the opportunity to fulfil their aspirations and to lead successful, productive lives. It recognizes the dual responsibility of listeners and society to create the environment in which people who stutter can develop their aspirations and talents and of people who stutter to advocate better understanding and to become active partners in their own future.

A person who stutters has the right to . . .

  1. stutter or to be fluent to the extent he or she is able or chooses to be
  2. communicate regardless of his or her degree of stuttering
  3. be treated with dignity and respect by individuals, groups, groups, companies, governmental agencies, organizations and arts and media
  4. publicly available and accurate information about stuttering
  5. equal protection under the law regardless of his or her degree of stuttering
  6. be informed fully about therapy programs, including the likelihood of success, failure or relapse
  7. receive therapy appropriate for his or her unique needs, concerns, and characteristics from professionals trained to treat stuttering and its related problems
  8. choose and participate in therapy, to choose not to do so, or to change therapy or clinician without prejudice or penalty

A person who stutters has the responsibility
to . . .

  1. understand that listeners or conversation partners may be uninformed about stuttering and its ramifications or that they may hold different views of stuttering
  2. advise listeners or conversation partners if one needs additional time to communicate
  3. participate in therapy of his or her own choice, and to do so in an open, active and co-operative manner
  4. do whatever one can to overcome life handicaps that have occurred because of stuttering, including developing a realistic appraisal of his or her strengths and weaknesses and perhaps a healthy sense of humour about himself or herself
  5. regard and treat others who have, problems, disabilities, or handicaps with fairness under the law and with dignity and respect, regardless of the nature of their conditions
  6. be conscious that he or she has power to promote awareness about stuttering and its ramifications

Updated on November 24, 2001
Hebrew translation of Bill of Rights and Responsibilities