Identification cards are now available for individuals in the United States who have a stutter.
Stuttering is considered a disability and is covered by the Americans with Disability Act. Despite this and the fact that approximately three million Americans and 70 million people worldwide stutter, many do not take this disability seriously and are discriminated against and belittled for it.
The card will speak for individuals who stutter when they are able to speak for themselves in stressful public situations where communication is essential, such as airport security and customs.
The card was created in response to an incident that recently transpired involving Kylie Simmons, a U.S. resident who was detained after stuttering the words “Costa Rica” when going through customs at an Atlanta airport. The 20-year-old woman had just returned from studying abroad in Costa Rica and has struggled with the speech impediment her whole life.
Simmons’ phone was taken away and she was detained for an hour, causing her to miss her connecting flight.
“I felt inferior, intimidated and bullied,” she told The Mighty.
Immediately afterwards, the young woman went directly to file a complaint with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol office. While a supervisor on the phone issued her a verbal apology, Simmons wrote a letter asking for a formal apology.
“What upset me the most was that the [customs agent] addressed my stutter as a ‘problem,’” Simmons wrote in her letter to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “I looked him in the eyes and explained to him that my disability was not a problem, but was simply a personal challenge for me that makes it difficult for me to communicate… I was continuously told that I was lying and that I was being dishonest. All my life, I have been bullied and silenced because of my stutter. I felt silenced today.”
Simmons then partnered with The Stuttering Foundation of America to create the stuttering identification card in the hopes of preventing such an incident from happening to others who suffer from stuttering.
“I do not want this to happen to me again,” Simmons wrote in her letter, “and not to anyone else with a disability.”