University in Iowa drops controversial conference

After finding itself caught up in national debate – and, at times, outrage – over the practice of ‘facilitated communication’, University of Northern Iowa administrators have decided to no longer host an annual conference featuring the controversial technique, writes Vanessa Miller for The Gazette.

A group of 30-plus academics and professionals – including faculty from Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Emory University and three University of Northern Iowa (UNI) professors – over the summer wrote to UNI College of Education Dean Gaëtane Jean-Marie to ask that she reconsider promotion of “this invalidated and demonstrably harmful practice”.

‘Facilitated communication’ entails facilitators conveying the thoughts of non-verbal individuals by supporting their hands over a keyboard or other device while words are typed. It has come under fire from many in the academic and scientific community who are concerned that facilitators put words in the mouths of vulnerable people and expose them and their caregivers to abuse and false allegations. But others have praised it as a life-altering tool.
Full report on The Gazette site