Disability studies have been trying find the origin of people first language. The information below is a timeline of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) which demonstrates that we were one of the first to use person first language. It includes references to Michael Sugarman's articles where person first language was used in academic papers.


We were one of the first to use person first language

by Michael Sugarman

Late January 1977 Bruce Morad, Attorney helped NSA (NSP) to Incorporate as a Nonprofit. Bob Goldman Executive Director and Michael Sugarman Associate Director.

Michael Sugarman attended peer support group at Center for Independent Living Center Berkeley Ca. Discussed people first language. And believed that disability rights and stuttering self help movement was rooted in human and civil rights. 1977.

1977 Bob Goldman left - 1978 Michael Sugarman became Executive Director of NSA.

Few of us from NSA attended stuttering presentation 1978 ASHA: Gene Cooper and Hugo Gregory were moderators. And Joe Sheehan and William Perkins. And asked speakers to use Person who Stutters language.

National Council for Adult Stutterers (Gene Walle, PH.D. and Michael Hartford) joined NSA (Michael Sugarman) in a presentation at the 1978 ASHA convention. At the end of November - NSA and National Council for Adult Stutterers worked together.

1978 "Stuttering Child Workshop for Parents" and various workshops presented for PWS and Speech Language Pathologist on the West Coast of the USA.

First academic articles on Person first language: "From Being a Stutterer to Becoming a Person who Stutters" Transactional Analysis Journal Vol. 9, No. 1 January 1979 and "It's OK to Stutter: A Personal Account" Journal of Fluency Disorders 5 (1980) M. Sugarman

Invited by ASHA to have a booth 1979 during national convention - gave us a free booth by the restrooms. Speech Language Pathologist nationally acknowledged NSA.

35 support groups around the United States 1979. Sent out monthly support group ideas.

Fund Raiser at Earthquake McGoon's "Stutterers Ball" Turk Murphy Jazz Band. San Francisco, Ca. 1980.

"Letter to the Editor" Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, January 1981 Vol. 12 No. 1 M. Sugarman

Sugarman worked at Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. Traveled around the United States to train disabled people on disability rights. Met with Speech language professionals and People who Stutter and started NSA support groups and by end of 1981 52 support groups were supported by monthly mailings by Sugarman and East Bay support group members. Asked group facilitators to contact office to share concerns.

10 support groups were focused on writing to Congress and Senators in support Rehabilitation Act 504 (future ADA). Members demonstrated in marches (1980).

Multiple NSA brochures were printed and distributed at ASHA events for speech language pathologists and to and for People who stutter. (1978 - 1981) For example: "Avoidance and Concealment of Stuttering" Michael Petrunik, Ph.D. brochure.

Stutterers Self Help groups in Switzerland and Germany hosted their annual meeting 1980 and invited organizations of Stutterers from Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and us. I did not attend. My focus and energy was creating an organization here in USA.

1982 John Ahlbach became Executive Director.

In 1984 NSA hosted the first national convention for PWS in San Francisco, CA.

1988 Advocacy of group of members and their local representatives President of USA signed proclamation establishing second week of May as National Stuttering Awareness Week.

"Self Help Workbook for People who Stutter." 1990 M. Sugarman

1980's only Adults who stuttered attended NSA conference and Joan Babin speech language pathologist suggested children and parents to attend national conference.

1991 at the Dallas Convention Youth Day was organized for teens and children and parents.

1992 NSA hosted the International Conference for PWS in San Francisco, Ca.

Passing Twice organized 1992.

1993 NSA expanded - Ahlbach Executive Director hired Annie Bradberry as Associate Director. The Board of Directors asked Sugarman to return as Executive Director 1995.

Sugarman was initial consumer member of the first Specialty Recognition division to initiate specialty certification for speech language pathologists in treating People who Stutter 1995. By the end of term voted to have Lee Reeves to follow on the Specialty Board for ASHA.

1996 was designated as the ‘Year of Child who stutters" and NSA sponsored 12 children, youth and parents' workshops from Long Island, NY to Dallas, TX to Los Angles, CA. 1,200 participated and educated on stuttering.

1997 John Ahlbach and Lee Caggiano founded Friends who Stutter organization.

"Peer counseling and Self Help Group Facilitation for People who stutter." 1995 Sugarman. Trained peer facilitators at NSA conferences for 1995 to 1997.

Annie Bradberry became Executive Director 1997.

International Stuttering Awareness Day was designated for October 22nd every year since 1998, and included an annual online conference (coordinated by Judy Kuster from 1998-2012 and Bruce Imhoff starting in 2013).

2000 Bill of Rights for People who stutter was created and distributed to over 20,000 folks in the stuttering community.

2001 Taro Alexander started Say organization.

2001 NSA hosted the first joint symposium for scientists and consumers: Pioneering Stuttering Research in 21st Century. The event focused on building partnerships and fostering collaboration between researchers and clinicians.

2003 Elaine Wigdor Robin became interim ED for a limited time. Tammy Flores became ED 2004 till now. (Tammy has been with NSA since 1995)

2009 Nina G. and Jaime created Stuttering Ribbon: The color of Blue has traditionally been associated with calm while green represents liberty, freedom and justice. The combination of colors for People who Stutter show bond between peace and liberation when finding support and community with other people who understand and share their experiences. Wear your ribbon for International Stuttering Awareness Day October 22nd and National Stuttering Awareness Week during the month of May.


First posted with permission of Michael Sugarman March 27, 2018