Something to Consider on International Stuttering Awareness Day…

It’s that time of year again! That’s right, October 22nd is International Stuttering Awareness Day! As a person who stutters, 10/22 represents something very near and dear to my heart. In my career as an author, comedian, and educator, spreading awareness is the common theme that drives all my work. But what does “awareness” really mean? Most people are “aware” of stuttering: they know what it is; they know that it exists. But beyond that? How stuttering affects our lives, how it affects the way we interact with other people—the really important stuff—those things rarely enter into the mainstream discussion. So, in honor of International Stuttering Awareness Day, I thought I’d make a quick list of things I think we should all be aware of. I encourage other people who stutter to add to this list in the comments, sharing some of your experiences. I certainly don’t speak for all of us!

1. Beware Completing People’s Sentences

The name of my new book (shameless plug) is Stutterer Interrupted. Why did I pick that title? Yeah, it’s a reference to the Wynona Ryder thing, but, more importantly, it’s a reference to the fact that we are always being interrupted! It typically goes something like this:

ME:
“I would like p-p-p–”

OTHER PERSON:
“Pumpernickel? Pizza? Pasta?”

Like the picture says, “I stutter! You’re gonna have to wait for all my brilliant ideas.” Having someone guess my next word makes things uncomfortable, which makes it harder for me to communicate. Plus, their guesses are almost always wrong! Things will go smoother if the listener just waits for the person stuttering to complete their thought. We love attentive listeners!

2. Beware Unwanted Advice (on Stuttering)

Unless I’m asking for it—or better yet, paying for it—I don’t want any tips on how to “improve” my speech. I’ve gotten unsolicited recommendations for “miracle cures” that range from homeopathic remedies to sexual acts to divine interventions. And let’s not forget that timeless classic, “just slow down and breathe.” Usually, the advice-giver’s credentials consist of “my third cousin once-removed stutters… or wait, was it Tourette’s?” Occasionally, they turn out to be an actual medical practitioner or speech therapist, but that doesn’t make it any less inappropriate. There is a time and place. And that time and place is probably not at a wedding where the person who stutters is supposed to be having fun!

3. We Don’t Need to Be Fixed

That’s right! It is up to every individual to decide how they want to speak. Some people may choose to engage in therapy to manage their stuttering. Others may not. It’s a personal choice. I personally don’t feel the need to be fluent (i.e., able to speak without stuttering). My speech patterns are a part of who I am, resulting from a difference in my brain (or neurodiversity, as many of us call it). There are many types of people, which means many types of communicating.  A person who stutters can communicate with the same clarity and effectiveness as anyone else. We just happen to have a less common way of doing it. Which brings me to my next point…

4. We Are Part of the One Percent (Not That One, the Other One)!

People who stutter make up only 1% of the adult population. Incredibly, only one fourth of that one percent are women! That’s why I refer to myself and my stuttering sisters as unicorns… because we are rare and elusive things of beauty! There are downsides to being a mythical creature though. Since we account for such a small part of the population, we don’t get a lot of representation in mainstream culture. You have to scour the ends of the Earth just to find a good stuttering role model on TV. If a person who stutters does appear in popular media, they are usually depicted in a gimmicky way that isn’t really empowering. That lady on Oprah who “cured” her stutter by wearing headphones for five minutes? Sorry, that doesn’t really do it for me. Growing up in the 1980s, the closest thing I had to a role model was a cartoon pig who didn’t wear pants. Yeah, I wish that was a joke. One of the best ways to spread awareness is through honest representation in the media… so let’s have more of that, eh?

5. There Is a Stamily Out There

Because people who stutter are few and far between, it’s an extra-special kind of awesome when we run into each other out there in the world. Sometimes it’s almost like finding long lost family, or “Stamily” as many of us call it. Growing up, I always felt like I was alone. I never knew there was such thing as a stuttering community. When I finally discovered that community, it changed the trajectory of my entire life. I was no longer alone. I suddenly had role models. I realized I could do anything, even be a stand-up comedian. I just wish someone had made me aware of it sooner… so you better believe I’m going to talk about it for Stuttering Awareness Day! There are so many amazing organizations around the world that support and bring together people who stutter: The National Stuttering Association (US), The British Stammering Association, The Indian Stammering Association, just to name a few. The International Stuttering Association even hosts an online conference in October, in honor of International Stuttering Awareness Day (check it out HERE). Many organizations also hold conferences and conventions that you can attend in person. I am not exaggerating when I say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without these conferences. To be surrounded by nothing but Stamily for five days is simply mind-blowing—there’s no other way to describe it.

For a partial list of stuttering/stammering organizations all over the world, please find it HERE.

For T-shirts that say “I stutter! You are going to have to wait for all my brilliant ideas!” at: https://arkansas-tees.com/products/nina-g-stutterer-interrupted-brilliant-ideas-t-shirt

Thank you for reading this! And for celebrating International Stuttering Awareness Day! ❤

Photo and ballonery by Michael James Schneider

5 Ways Libraries Can Support the Stuttering Community

As a person who stutters, I have heard it all!  Upon introducing myself, I inevitably might hear “did you forget your name?”  or “wh-wh-wh-what?” People who stutter find particular difficulties when interacting with people in a customer service capacity.  Last year there was a news article about a Starbucks customer who found himself mocked by a barista who used the stuttering version of his name to identify his beverage.  This may sound extreme, but so many of the 1 percent of the adult population who stutters has at least one experience where they were being mocked by a person who was in a role to help or serve them.

Librarians and library staff are among the most helpful people I have ever encountered!  They are excited to help patrons find the perfect book or resource. In the past few decades there has been a push to make libraries more welcoming places for everyone, including people with disabilities.  This has gone beyond ramps to include trainings on customer service with a focus on serving people with disabilities, displaying visual icons to help people with dyslexia navigate the Dewey Decimal System, and software to make their computers accessible to people with an array of disabilities.

In my experience, stuttering is often ignored because the library barriers don’t seem so obvious. Nonetheless, libraries will want to minimize awkward interactions like the one that occurred at Starbucks. The following are a few tips to consider. They include basic etiquette and also ways to reach out to the stuttering community, making libraries a place for resources and support.

1.  Stuttering, like many other speech-based disabilities, is not apparent.  

You won’t know someone stutters by looking at them, which means anyone approaching you might be a person who stutters. Knowing there is diversity in how people verbally express themselves helps make your interactions more inclusive. Assuming that anyone might stutter or speak in a variety of ways prepares you to address these differences when you encounter them. Some tips for facilitating these interactions include:

  • Not interrupting the person and letting them finish what they are saying.
  • Maintaining eye contact.
  • If the person says something you don’t completely understand, repeat the part you did understand so that they only have to fill in the part you missed instead of saying the whole thing over again.

2.  Don’t try to “fix” them.

People who stutter are often approached with cures for how to resolve their speech difficulties. These have included everything from old wives tales to hallucinogenics and miracle cures seen on talk shows. These are rarely helpful. Many people who stutter have likely been doing so for a long time and have tried multiple ways to manage their speech.  There are no known cures for stuttering, so offering your distant relative’s rumored remedy to resolve their speech issues isn’t likely wanted or helpful information.  In fact, many people who stutter have accepted their stuttering as divergent speech — just another way of talking — and we should follow suit!

3. Learn about stuttering resources.

There are important resources that should be shared when asked. These encourage and focus on information, peer support, acceptance of stuttering and advocacy.  Resources that encourage self-acceptance and include people who stutter on their boards and in their leadership should be given special attention!

4.  Promote positive images of people who stutter.

Positive images of people who stutter are rare.  In books, film and TV we are often portrayed as anti-social, bitter, comical or with bumbling incompetency. It is important that people who stutter are reflected in complex ways that represent the full human experience. These aren’t necessarily stories of overcoming stuttering, but living with it and helping the reader deepen their understanding of what that experience is like.  Recommended books and films include:

Books:

Children’s books:

Movies:

5.  Making your library a community space for people who stutter would be the neon sign that says “we get it!”  

Hosting events or support groups that the National Stuttering Association (NSA) and other organizations sponsor is a great start. October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day. The second week of May is National Stuttering Awareness Week in the United States. All of these awareness days can help educate your communities about stuttering. It is also an excellent opportunity to partner with local stuttering organizations like the NSA support groups to hear what they would like to see and how the library could be helpful.

People who stutter or have other speech-based disabilities are as diverse patrons as other library patrons.  They are likely looking up books that are of personal interest to them. They should have these opportunities in places where they can freely ask questions.  These are just a few recommendations, but there is likely more that can be done! The best way to know what the stuttering community at your library wants is to simply ask them. Keeping the lines of communication open is key to serving any community. These are just a few steps to making the library a more welcoming place for everyone.

 

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Transforming How We Think About Stuttering

I am happy to share one of the chapters from my book Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen (debuts August 6, 2019 but available for pre-order now).  One note before you read this offering.  I encourage everyone reading to think about how they think about stuttering (whether or not you are a person who stutters) and what you would like to think and feel about stuttering.  To assist, I have included a blank iceberg that can be used by people to create their own version of the stuttering iceberg.  You have permission to use this for your presentations, clinical work and wherever else it might be helpful!

berg brand

 

Transforming The Iceberg

I have very little control over my stutter. I wouldn’t even call it control; it’s more like I have to bargain with it. “Hey Nina’s Stutter, if I put on my ‘business voice’ and totally not sound like myself, will you let me get through this one phone call with a stranger?” “If I allow this word or that word, will you at least stay out of my next sentence?” I get exhausted just thinking about it. If I planned my day around Nina’s Stutter, there wouldn’t be time for anything else. Life is short, and I’m not going to waste it trying to control what I can’t control.

Stuttering is one of the few constants in my life. My hair has changed, my clothes have changed, my address has changed—but Nina’s Stutter is here to stay. It has never changed, and it probably never will. But the way I think and feel about it has changed.

 

I used to hate Nina’s Stutter. I was ashamed of it. I devoted the best parts of my youth to fighting it, instead of doing things that made me feel happy or productive. The more I missed out on life, the more I blamed Nina’s Stutter, doubling down my efforts to kill it. If only I were fluent, everything else would fall into place! I could speak freely. I could have boys ask me to prom. I could even follow my dreams and be a stand-up comic. All I had to do was stop stuttering!

When I write it down, it seems so ridiculous. How can some pauses and a few extra syllables take control of a person’s life?

That question became a point of focus for Joseph Sheehan, a clinical researcher and psychologist where?. Throughout his career, he observed that stuttering was typically more disruptive to a person’s emotional wellbeing than it was to their actual speech. In Stuttering: Research and Therapy (1970), Sheehan writes that “stuttering is like an iceberg, with only a small part above the waterline and a much bigger part below.” According to Sheehan, what most people think of as “stuttering” is only the tip of iceberg—the outwardly observable symptoms on the surface. But the emotional baggage that it carries—the invisible pain underneath—that’s the bulk of the ice. Sheehan organized these murky, underwater emotions into seven categories: fear, denial, shame, anxiety, isolation, guilt, and hopelessness. According to Sheehan, as the stutterer resolves these issues, the negative emotions begin to “evaporate.” This in turn causes the “waterline” to lower, until, finally, all that remains is the physical stutter. 

Sheehan’s book became highly influential in its field. The iceberg theory advanced a more holistic view of stuttering, inspiring professionals to consider more than just the sounds coming out of a person’s mouth. It also helped me think about my own experience. I have all those emotions below the water. I have felt guilty, for making people wait through a stalled sentence. I have felt isolated, especially before discovering the stuttering community. But most of all, I have felt shame, simply for speaking the way that I speak.

 Although it provides a useful framework, I don’t think Sheehan’s Iceberg presents the full picture. Sure, it explains the negative things we feel, but what about the other emotions? Just like everyone else, the life of a stutterer is filled with ups and downs, victories and defeats, good times and bad times. Even if your overall situation doesn’t change, things might look better or worse on a given day depending what side of the bed you wake up on. It’s all a matter of perspective.

If you’ve ever laid on the grass and looked up at the clouds, you know how easily perspective can change. One minute this cloud looks like a dragon; the next minute it looks like a bunny rabbit. Unless El Niño is brewing up an apocalyptic tornado, that cloud probably hasn’t changed much in the last sixty seconds. Instead, you let your eyes wander, reoriented your perspective, and unknowingly formed a different mental picture of the same thing.

If it can be done with literal clouds, then it can be done with metaphorical icebergs. Stuttering doesn’t have to be a bad experience if we change our perspective. Before I found the stuttering community, my perspective was all negative. I was isolated, ashamed, and everything else Sheehan packs into that sad popsicle. But when I found the National Stuttering Project during that summer in high school, something changed. I was no longer isolated–I had found a community. I was no longer ashamed. Maybe even… proud?

Sheehan writes about negative emotions evaporating until only a stutter remains. I disagree. When bad feelings subside, other feelings have to take their place. We don’t refer to happiness as “not sadness,” or confidence as “not embarrassment.” The negative emotions in Sheehan’s Iceberg all have positive equivalents. I propose that we can do more than simply make the bad feelings go away; we have the power to transform fear, shame, anxiety, isolation, denial, guilt, and hopelessness into feelings of courage, pride, comfort, community, acceptance, kindness, and hope.

So how do we do that? Although the negative emotions in Sheehan’s Iceberg are common to the stuttering experience, they are common because we live in a society that treats people with disabilities as substandard. But we don’t have to buy into it. All the weird looks we get in public, all the shitty images we see in the media, all the lowered expectations that people project onto us—they can all be thrown out and replaced with something better. Instead of struggling to conform to the ideals of a culture that makes us feel deficient, we can cultivate our own perspective and learn to love ourselves as we are. Every person who stutters has the responsibility to create their own iceberg—one that reflects their best possible self.

How we are perceived is largely influenced by how we perceive ourselves. When I began to accept my stutter, so did the people around me. Friends and family stopped offering advice on how to improve my fluency. People stopped thinking of me as a weirdo (at least after high school). Obviously there is a limit to how much self-perception can determine the views of others: I can’t force an asshole to stop being an asshole, as we’ve seen countless times in this book. But I can determine my own worth and decide which assholes are beneath me. I can share my values with the world, doing what I can to sway us from that asshole culture toward something more loving and equitable.

Promoting stuttering acceptance has been one of my greatest missions in life. Everyone who interacts with us, thinks about us, studies us, works with us, produces movies and TV shows about us, reports on us—they all have stuttering icebergs too! The strange and shitty ways they treat us stem from murky emotions below the tip of the iceberg. If we are ever going to overcome discrimination, we have to address the emotional baggage of these people as well. It’s not going to be easy. It’s hard enough to understand my own feelings toward stuttering, much less model them for others! All I can do is put myself in front of the public and try my best—in bars and comedy clubs, on college campuses, in online videos and social media, and now on in this book. Changing minds isn’t easy, but I’ll take that over trying to change how I speak.

 

Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen is available for pre-order now through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Ingram, Baker Taylor and your local bookstore.  Debuts August 6, 2019!

apetizer
Image is a JPG, but a high quality version in PDF is linked below.

high quality base iceberg

Stuttering Comedian and Author to Headline Punch Line Sacramento

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Stuttering stand up comic Nina G will have the top spot at the Invisible Disabilities Comedy Show at the Sacramento Punch Line on Sunday, January 27 2019! Author of the forthcoming book Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen, Nina’s comedy is funny, revealing, unapologetic, and always a window to her experience as a person who stutters. Through humor, Nina G is challenging now people think of stuttering.

Nina’s brand of comedy highlights that the problem with disabilities is not the people with them, but a society that isn’t inclusive. Nina thinks the recent trend of online stories featuring “clever” ways people “cured” their stuttering may be sending the wrong message to those who are non-stuttering speakers, offers.  Nina adds, “focusing on changing us instead of living our lives gives the wrong message to the public.” Always one to model in herself what she expects from others, her humor is accessible to all who are ready for a good laugh!

Bio

When Nina G started comedy nearly eight years ago, she was the only woman who stuttered in the world doing stand-up. Undaunted after battling a lifetime of stigma, Nina pursued her dream.

Nina G is a comedian, professional speaker, writer and educator. She brings her humor to help people confront and understand Disability culture, access, and empowerment.

Book

Nina G’s latest book, Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen

is a memoir, published by She Writes Press, will be released August 6, 2019.

Nina tells the story of her journey of how she became, at the time she started, America’s only female stuttering stand-up comedian. On stage, Nina encounters the occasional heckler, but off stage she is often confronted with people’s comments toward her stuttering. Listeners completing her sentences, inquiring “did you forget your name?” and giving unwanted advice like “slow down and breathe” are common.  As if she never thought about slowing down and breathing in her over thirty years of stuttering!  In Stutterer Interrupted… Nina confronts these interruptions and so much more!

What the show is about and the awareness that it brings

Producers, Ali Ada and and Drew Kimzey each live with multiple disabilities that substantially limit their lives, yet you might never know it. They’re both passionate about comedy but have significant obstacles that can prevent them from achieving their goals. The desire to turn their obstacles into strengths inspired the idea for this show.

Line up includes: Chey Bell, Jeanette Marin, Sureini Weerasekera, Anihca Cihla, Nicole Tran, Emily Pedersen and Kelley Nicole. Hosted by Amber Whitford.

In the 18 months since Coral got her start in comedy she has gathered a significant following with her shockingly real and relatable story telling. After going through a major medical crisis she took to stage with her natural, conversational humor and absurd comedy style and never looked back. Many of her jokes surround her new life post surgery as a young, broke, female adjusting to having an ostomy bag. She performs all over the Bay Area sharing her unabashed tales in major clubs such as the SF Punch Line and the San Jose Improv, bringing light to her not-dinner-table-appropriate disability (aka her poop bag.)

Quote from here:  “Talking about my ostomy bag on stage not only helped me to accept my new body and situation but educated others on a struggle they knew nothing, to little, about. It’s not just about making people laugh, it’s about drawing them in to your life enough that they begin to invest in attempting to understand your experience, with your disability. It gives my comedy more purpose to know I’m doing my part to reach out to the audience and share that we are all going through some type of invisible struggle, and here I am being open and honest about mine in an attempt to bring us all closer together.”

Invisible Disabilities Comedy Show

Show: Sunday, January 27, 2019

http://www.punchlinesac.com.  (18+ 2 drink min)

916-925-8500

The Punch Line Sacramento

2100 Arden Way

Sacramento, CA 95825

Produced by Ali Ada and Drew Kimzey

Media Contact:

Nina G

NinaGbooking@gmail.com

510-922-0179

###

 

show id.nina

A Guide for Disability Awareness Events On Your Campus

Planning events at a college can be daunting, but also very rewarding!  Speakers can demonstrate the power of the Disability experience and inspire students in ways that are long lasting and life changing.  Speakers can help to change attitudes of the larger college community and help people question what they think they know about disability.

Somethings to consider when booking a Disability awareness Speaker include:

  1. Contact the potential speaker or artist. Find out their fees, availability and what they have to offer.
  2. Follow the money! Investigate how to fund the speaker. Can different committees or departments collaborate to sponsor the event?
  3. Check to see if other events are scheduled. Remember, home coming and finals week may not be the best weeks to hold your event!
  4. Book your speaker!
  5. Collaborate with other department and committees for co-sponsorship. Even if they aren’t funding the speaker, you can use the help to get the word out.
Bonus Tip: Collaborate with a professor and hold the event during their class. That way you can guarantee your event will be well attended. The professor can work the event into the class. Works great for everyone!

 

Planning an event but not sure where to start or what to do?  Take a look at this guide intended for colleges wanting to educate their communities on disability issues.  Even if you are not at a college or you are producing non-Disability related events, this information can still be useful.

PULLING OFF A SUCCESSFUL EVENT ON YOUR COLLEGE CAMPUS:  https://ninagcomedian.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/pulling-off-a-successful-event-at-your-college-campus/

10 TIPS FOR MARKETING YOUR NEXT COLLEGE OR COMMUNITY EVENT:  https://ninagcomedian.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/10-tips-for-marketing-you-next-college-or-community-event/

FUNDING DISABILITY AWARENESS EVENTS ON YOUR COLLEGE CAMPUS:  https://ninagcomedian.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/funding-disability-awareness-events-on-your-college-campus/

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Almost 75 ways to bring Universal Design for Learning into your college classroom

Thanks to all who participated in my workshop on Universal Design for Learning at the California Association of Postsecondary Education and Disability conference.  During the workshop we did a gallery walk to generate ideas of how to implement UDL into the classroom.  I am happy to report that you came up with 74 ways!  Check it out!

Comment on this post if you have tried anything new in the classroom since the workshop or have other ideas!

Kinetic

  • doing cotton ball passing game to demo dendrites
  • performance for assessment
  • role play
  • scavenger hunt
  • game to demonstrate such as monopoly
  • create something such as drawings, collages, or posters.
  • pair up with a partner sitting on the other side of the class.
  • informational interviews,
  • pottery class
  • gamifying the lecture.
  • make cards or slips of paper with items on them to have small groups. Organize them to create structures, outlines for writing or reading categories to support learning of concepts.
  • in content classes continuum line, have students physically placed themselves along a clear path of travel in the classroom or hallway to illustrate where they are on an issue or question
  • variation for coroners: have students go to the corner that best fits their response to the question or controversy. can be used to put students in discussion group early math with an abacus.
  • going to support programs around campus
  • service learning group projects,
  • put community or campus events on teach someone or present,
  • get out of the classroom,
  • completing case studies using TV or movie characters,
  • break up class into small groups to discuss and work together.
  • take a minimum five minutes minute break every hour.

Auditory

  • videos
  • storytelling
  • guided meditation
  • tones for terms
  • prerecord articles through voice note function on your phone and post to Canvas for those who would like the auditory
  • have students read aloud important texts in class: “golden lines” from reading, selected paragraphs or quotations before discussing these terms. Terms and their own definitions to peer teach or check and monitor their own comprehension
  • to memorize, record the information, then listen to it.
  • debate
  • songs on the topic or the things.

Visuals

  • 60 seconds,
  • powerpoint
  • videos,
  • program sheets,
  • flow charts,
  • diagrams,
  • graphic organizers (see inspiration.com),
  • screenshots of computer program processes or software.
  • picture of images (go to Google images)
  • While the matching words are said
  • create info graphics for almost any content
  • have students or teachers explain a concept in comic book form or to practice a sequence.
  • writing names of colors in the same color ink.
  • color coding main ideas, details with highlights, topic sentence in color or post its.
  • tangible objects instead of pictures,
  • pictures, memes, gifs,
  • youtube videos,
  • how to videos,
  • Kahoot
  • popcon,
  • use video material that they are interested in, which applies to what is being taught on canvas.
  • plan poster,
  • post powerpoints in advance,
  • summary of what we learned that worked.
  • create Study Guide and adding to it
  • posts all the texts accessible and advance in lecture.
  • Use simple statements/clear bullets. No heavy text.

Emotions:

  • find a way to remember students quickly,
  • opportunities to share stories and opinions.
  • thirty second reflection,
  • self reflection (metacognition) often projects, quizzes, inactivities,
  • peer support to your students.
  • try to arrive early to class, stay after class for questions and be present in your posted office hours.
  • talk time to connect on papers and demonstrations you are taking in vested interest in your students.
  • make the effort to get to know your students beginning of the semester.
  • ask  students to share a little about themselves, goals in the class for their learning style and he requested accommodations.
  • clips from movies or TV shows that connect to what we’re learning,
  • sharing personal and emotional stories that illustrate a theory
  • daily, checkins
  • bio. Introduce yourself to me and what your goals are.
  • emotional presentation,
  • icebreakers
  • sensory in recalling your memory,
  • Holland code and island hopping.
  • having students do primary research, interviews, surveys, small group discussion with question prompts.

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SpeakerMatch Companion

stutter-authn

 

April 12 I am on SpeakerMatch Radio and I wanted to offer a companion for some of the things I am talking about as well as a place for people to have dialogue with one another about best practices for getting and promoting college gigs.

Below are some resources that I will reference.  Please check them out!

PULLING OFF A SUCCESSFUL EVENT ON YOUR COLLEGE CAMPUS:  https://ninagcomedian.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/pulling-off-a-successful-event-at-your-college-campus/

10 TIPS FOR MARKETING YOUR NEXT COLLEGE OR COMMUNITY EVENT:  https://ninagcomedian.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/10-tips-for-marketing-you-next-college-or-community-event/

FUNDING DISABILITY AWARENESS EVENTS ON YOUR COLLEGE CAMPUS:  https://ninagcomedian.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/funding-disability-awareness-events-on-your-college-campus/

Slides from a presentation:  Going Beyond Inspirations and Simulations-Disability Awareness Events At Your College

My college press kit.

 

Stutterer Interrupted Meets Comedians Interrupted!

Oh the irony!  Stutterer Interrupted (the name of my upcoming book) meets Comedians, Interrupted this Friday, January 5, 2018.  Its the only show where they are allowed to interrupt me.  Find out the background of my jokes and see what Dalia and Joe think is worthy is ask.  Show is after Oakland’s First Friday!

#FirstFridays #Oakland #Stuttering #Comedy

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/interruption-show-comedians-interrupted-tickets-41368936603

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Stuttering Comedy Comes to Laramie!

Comedy, art and Disability in Laramie, Wyoming!!

I will be in there on January 27 at The Cooper Center for Creative Arts (1174 N. 4th Street) to raise money for the Ark Regional Services that supports artists with disabilities.  If you are in the area, check it out and hope that I know how to dress for the weather!

Come for the heavy appetizers and stay for the comedy!

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How Will You Celebrate Stuttering Awareness?

As a stand up comedian and Disability educator, I aim to make the world more aware of aspects of the disability experience.  As a person who stutters, who loves her community, I make a special point to share my experience and educate people about stuttering and stuttering etiquette.  In everything I do, I hope to go beyond stuttering awareness to place where we can celebrate our community and have a more inclusive world where we are able to be more integrated in our identities as people who stutter and however else we identify (culture, talents, hobbies, etc…).  We just aren’t our speech, but I personally don’t want people to overlook my experiences as a Stutterer because those experiences are an important part of what has created me.

Sometimes I get a little stuck on how I want to raise awareness.  I am just one individual, so how will I make an impact in raising awareness in my personal and professional lives, not to mention the world?  I have some ideas that I wanted to share with you.  And in no particular order….

Ain’t No Party Like A Stuttering Party

You know what?  People don’t equate stuttering or disability with fun!  I know, I don’t get it either.  Whenever I am around people who share my experiences I have hella fun.  I feel like I am at home.  People without disabilities or who don’t stutter can’t even imagine us getting together and partying.  Why not get together with your local stuttering community and go out to eat, picnic, sing karaoke, go out dancing, or whatever would be fun.  Make it an open invitation so people can meet up (you can even use meetup.com to do outreach), meet each other and find a community where they can not only share their gripes about stuttering in a fluent world, but also share their joys, successes and laughter.  Making space for us to have fun is so important and is a great bonding experience.  If you want to wear matching shirts or stuttering awareness sashes, that is great, but just getting together is a big deal for us.

Fun+food+stuttering=awareness

As an Italian-American, I tend to overdo it with the food, so I think I have some expertise in this area.  My plan is to bring stuttering awareness cupcakes to my office to share this year.  They will eat sea-green colored cupcakes but also get information about how to talk to a person who stutters.  There is plenty of information online about stuttering (just make sure it is the good stuff—please don’t send them that BS of Tony Robbins curing a person who stutters in 7 minutes because he was traumatized by Rocky and Bulwrinkle–no joke!  There is a lot of information about stuttering.  There are many organizations that produce materials such as the National Stuttering Association (NSA), Friends who Stutter, and Say.  Both organizations stress self-acceptance, community, and treatment options for people who stutter.  Not everyone is looking to be fluent and it is important for people outside of our community to know that we don’t need to be fixed.  Why not provide this type of information with decorated cookies or cupcakes?!

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Providing resources

Whatever you do, remember to provide resources to people you outreach too.  You might want to make a list of your top ten links, organizations, or videos.  Sometimes people are too shy to ask questions so providing resources can help them to find information on their own and digest it in their own time.  There are also some great podcasts like Women Who Stutter: Our Stories, Stutter Talk and Stuttering is Cool that you can promote as resources where real life experiences are explored.  Also, there are wonderful communities that can be found online.  One of my favorites is Stutter Social where you can communicate with people who stutter from all around the world in real time.  Because it is a Google Circle, you are able to see and hear people and is open to everyone.

Donating/Fundraising

There are large and small ways to fundraise or donate.  The most obvious is to just do it.  Send money to your favorite stuttering organization.  Many of us can’t afford to do this, but we might be able to organize an event to raise money.  There are some amazing organizations that help individuals who stutter to find their identity and advocate against discrimination.  Find out what stuttering organizations fit your own passions.  Besides raising money, your personal campaign funding is also raising awareness too because you are profiling an organization that you are passionate about.

Extra-Extra: Stutter all about it!

Did you know that radio stations NEED to do public service announcements (PSAs) as part of their community outreach?  Why not one about stuttering? I found the National Stuttering Association when I was a teenager because of a late night PSA and it changed my life.  Why not network to see how you can bring stuttering to a bigger audience?  Contacting your local news outlets is another great way to get the word out.  National Stuttering Awareness week is a great hook for a news outlet to cover.

Social Media

Social media is a blog entry in and of itself!  Lots of great activism goes on in social media.  Between tweeting, facebooking, blogging/vlogging, pinning and whatever else Silicon Valley has introduced this week, there is a ton of stuff that you can do to raise awareness and celebrate the Stuttering community.  Here are a few ideas.

Memes

For my purposes, I am talking about the little pictures that you can post to your social media.  Memes have a more broad definition, but let’s stick to the images for now.  Memes are a great way to give a visual image to a sound bite that you want to convey.  You can create your own to share or you can re-share others.  I have some of the ones that I have created at, please feel free to steal them: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.918396334847879.1073741833.123746114312909&type=1

Whether you create your own or share other’s, you might want to include a message about what the meme means to you and why you are sharing it.  We don’t always get to share our experience of stuttering, so saying a bit about it’s significance in your life will help to educate others.

Vlogs/Blogs

One of my biggest pet peeves, whether we are talking about entertainment or the academic/research realms, is that we, as people who stutter, have often had our voices blunted by the dominant/fluent perspective.  Traditionally, we have not had control over our images in the media or elsewhere.  The Disability community has adopted the slogan, “nothing about us without us” meaning that we should have say over all aspects of our Disability experience.  For the first time in our history, we have a direct line for representing who we are.  Why not share your experiences to the world?  Of course you should consider what you are sharing and take precautions.  If you are a young person, check with your family and friends to see if what you are thinking is a good idea and if you are prepared for any backlash.  Just assume that someone will have a problem with what you are saying, but also know that if you speak from a place that is authentic and true to yourself, you will touch people.  Other videos, like skits or slide shows, can also contribute to the library of images and diversity of content about stuttering.

One of my favorite videos I have worked on was with Gina Davis.  

Sharing videos

Sometimes you just can’t get around to creating a video or a blog but you might want to share other videos/blogs that represent your views.  There is a lot of great stuff out there and losing yourself in a search can produce some great opportunities to educate people on your Twitter feed and Facebook.  When sharing, do take into consideration that over saturating your Facebook feed can water down your message.  People get overwhelmed.  It might be better for you to post twice a day over the week instead of all at once.  Marketing research says that the peak time for Facebook is 11AM.  Apparently you are all sneaking it at work!  Thinking strategically can make the most out of your own personal awareness campaign.  Also, instead of just posting videos, include comments or questions so that people interact with the video.  It might start some great conversations on your feed!

People you admire who also happen to stutter

If I see another meme or article about Tiger Woods overcoming his stuttering, I am going to hurl!  So many of the images of people who stutter are people who don’t stutter openly.  Look beyond the awareness posters and images of “people who overcame” and look toward the athletes, professors, reporters, podcast hosts, authors and people YOU identify with.  Post these pictures and bios to your social media outlets and let people know why they are important to you.

The following is a list of some of the stuttering awareness material I have produced over the years.  Please include additional links in the comments section.  I hope something touches you and motivates you to tell others about stuttering:

BLOGS

Don’t Be That Person Who Stutters

The Stuttering Iceberg Gets A Make Over

License to Stutter: What the Stuttering Community Has Meant to Me

VIDEOS

Insights from a stuttering comedian with dyslexia. These are my unedited thoughts. Grammar and spelling doesn't count on blogging, especially since it did I would never post!