This article starts by reminding us of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948) of which article 19 stated: ‘‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’’. The author positions the discussion 70 years on from this statement on communication as a human right and describes the focus of the article to explore how this right is threatened for people with aphasia, but also what is being done to protect and reclaim this right. Hersh states that: “Aphasia impairment is not in itself a human rights issue but rather the degree to which people with aphasia have access to full participation, inclusion and dignity is.” The article describes shifts in healthcare over the last 70 years to be more person and family centred, focusing on issues beyond impairment, thus demonstrating a greater understanding of the needs of people living with aphasia. People with aphasia are increasingly involved in prioritising and planning healthcare research. Although awareness of aphasia and communication difficulties in the broader community remains low, countries have been increasingly coming together to form national and international organisations to advocate for their needs, hold collaborative meetings and work towards future goals together. The author concludes by pointing out the ongoing marginalisation of people with aphasia, and the need to continue work for more comprehensive global services for aphasia, to advocate for an aphasia friendly environment and to involve people with aphasia themselves in this agenda. This is relevant to all of us doing service improvement, development and research work for people with communication difficulties. In all these settings, we must endeavour to involve people with communication difficulties as partners; employing patient and public involvement, advocating for accessibility and improving service delivery.

From individual to global: human rights and aphasia.
Hersh D.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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