A Bedside Story


“Not Another Peep Out of You” is Harriet McBryde Johnson’s compelling account of being rushed to a hospital emergency room with severe abdominal pain. Harriet had a neuromuscular disease that meant she had to be lifted in a certain way in order to protect her fragile joints and spine. She was immediately intubated in preparation for emergency surgery. As a result, she temporarily lost the use of her voice. Without speech, or a family member or friend by her side, medical personnel did not understand her needs. Fortunately her brother Eric rushed to the scene and was in time to relay the information medical staff needed to care for her safely.

Harriet’s story brings home a frightening reality. As she says, “there are dangerous places where any of us can be silenced.” Take away the ability to communicate and we are all at increased risk in an emergency situation. People who use AAC are particularly vulnerable. A solution can be found in Bedside Messages, a compilation of 26 key phrases with corresponding AAC symbols in PDF format, which has been designed to be downloaded and used hospital settings. Developed as a result of a global research effort, this resource is available here for free download in 27 different languages.

Excerpts from “Bedside Messages,” Widget Health

Do you know of other helpful resources or tips for people who use AAC in health care settings? Please let us know by sending an email to blog(at)isaac-online.org.


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