Preventing Abuse and Providing Access to Justice for Individuals with Complex Communication Needs: The Role of Augmentative and Alternative Communication

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Individuals with disabilities, in particular those with complex communication needs, have an increased risk of falling victim to crimes such as abuse and violence. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) highlights the human rights that all persons should enjoy. It recognizes the importance of communication, not only as a basic human right that is essential to ensure one's protection and one's participation in all spheres of life, but also as an essential human need through which opinions, thoughts, emotions, and points of view can be shared. This article will address four specific articles of the CRPD that are essential for preventing abuse (including sexual abuse) and for providing access to justice for these at-risk individuals. These are: Article 6 (Women with Disabilities); Article 16 (Freedom from Exploitation, Violence and Abuse); Article 12 (Equal Recognition before the Law); and Article 13 (Access to Justice). Seven South African studies that focused on these four articles will be described in terms of their aims, methods, results, and clinical implications.

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