Press release -
BIDEN: A PRESIDENT WITH A STAMMER
The ascendency to one of the most powerful positions in the world by someone with a stammer is historic. Equivalent to seeing the first women President, the first disabled President, the first black President, something to celebrate. Pushing back against the shame associated with stammering, he made a point of talking about his stammer with a young boy with a stammer, Braydon in the weeks leading up to the election.
The commentary around Biden often portrays his stammer as a weakness. This would not be acceptable if this were any other physical attribute or condition. Stammering isn’t a failing or a weakness, it is a condition which makes it hard to talk fluently.
CEO of Stamma, Jane Powell said “Last month in our #FindTheRightWords campaign we replaced all the negative wording in Wikipedia around stammering - an act endorsed by the CEO of Wikimedia who said that the 'wording around stammering was not neutral before, and reinforced negative perceptions about stammering’. The negative wording used in relation to Joe Biden’s stammer persists. We urge the media to read and use our Guidelines on the subject".
Stammering affects around 1% of all adults across the world. It is usually a developmental condition which begins in childhood, affecting around 8% of children, as in the case of Biden. Most will regain fluency. For those in whom the condition persists, like Biden, it will be lifelong. In adulthood stammering is managed, not cured. Everyone stammers differently and the degree of their disfluency will vary widely. While Biden is rarely heard to stammer, this doesn’t mean he needs to manage the condition any less; and for some people achieving the degree of his ‘fluency’ is simply not attainable.
The shame associated with stammering has been maintained by an ongoing expectation for people who stammer to ‘learn to talk fluently, where stammering is seen as a weakness, and used for comedic purposes. As an organisation we hope that conversations around stammering, stimulated by a President who has a stammer, will become less stigmatising and that having a stammer will be accepted simply as a difference.
Research suggests that 8% of people will stammer at some point in their lives with up to 3% of UK adults describing themselves as currently having a stammer.
Stamma, the British Stammering Association seeks to create a society where people who stammer can fulfill their potential and enjoy respect and consideration. The charity offers support, information, advice and resources to those who stammer and their families as well as educators, employers and speech and language therapists.
Founded in 1978, The British Stammering Association began trading as Stamma in 2019. For more information visit Stamma.org. Registered Charity Numbers 1089967 / SC038866.