Adults and children with little or no functional speech (LNFS) face increased vulnerability when
it comes to being a victim of crime as they are seen as voiceless and invisible members of
society. Perpetrators know that a silent victim is the perfect victim. This presentation
start by explaining the scope of the problem and highlight the implications thereof. This will
be followed by a discussion of two common legal dilemmas, namely the underreporting of crimes as
well as the low conviction rates.
The presentation will conclude by providing guidance in terms of the way forward, by
underscoring possible and promising approaches to risk reduction for this population. Breaking
the silence is hard work, but it can be done, and should be done. A systemic multi-disciplinary
approach is promulgated, and specific strategies are provided for each of the different
role-players. This includes people who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), AAC
professionals, AAC manufacturers, criminal justice professionals, police officers, policy makers
and disability advocates, family members and other significant others and last, but definitely
not least, civil society.