A reader asked:
I have a friend who has a speech impediment. When we meet new people they often have a hard time understanding her. I can understand her about as well as I understand most people, but I’m not really sure what I can do to help. I don’t want to talk over her or act like I’m a translator.
It depends on what your friend wants you to do. Different people with speech impediments have different preferences.
I don’t know what your friend wants in those situations, but they probably do.
You can say something like: “I’ve noticed that sometimes when we’re interacting with new people they often have trouble understanding you, and I feel like I end up excluding you from the conversation. Are there are things you would like me to do in those situations?”
It’s likely that they know, and that you will be able to do what they suggest. Some possibilities:
- You interrupting people who talk over her
- (Eg: “Susan was saying something.” or “Susan, what were you saying?”)
- Interpreting for her sometimes (*if* this is what she wants; some people do)
- (Eg: “Susan said that the mushroom sauce is better at Delicious Restaurant”)
- Interpreting more subtly, by asking her questions
- (Eg: “Susan, did you say that we should go to Delicious Restaurant?”)
- Or any number of other things
Short version: Your disabled friends are probably a better judge of what would help them than you are. If in doubt, ask.