Shit People Say to People with Speech Impairments

Or, at least, these are things people (including some people I love and appreciate very much!) sometimes say to me when I . . .

Answer the phone

  • Oh my goodness! THAT doesn’t sound good!
  • Are you alright?!
  • I can’t understand you AT ALL.
  • Are you on a speakerphone? Can you just pick up?!
  • You sound AWFUL.
  • Do you have a cold?
  • I can’t hear you. Are you on a cell?

Make a Phone Call





Am at Home

  • [From another room] When are we watching the movie?
  • [From another room] Yes?
  • [From another room] What time is your phone call?
  • [Walking away] WHAT?
  • [Walking away] Where IS the dog?
  • [From several rooms away] WHAT?

Answer the Phone

Oh, did I wake you up?

No, I'm awake.

I’m sorry I woke you.

You didn't wake me. This is just how I sound.

I’ll let you go back to sleep–

No, what do you want?!

Attend a Teleconference

  • I feel really inspired by your presence.
  • It’s so brave of you to attend this. If I was like you, I don’t think I’d come to something like this.
  • You sound awful!
  • Would you rather just be silent?
  • Hey, your voice is really sexy.
  • You couldn’t speak in public though, could you? I mean, how would you talk? Do you use an interpreter or something?
  • Do you mind if I ask what’s wrong with you?

Answer the Phone

  • Ohmigod. Yourvoiceisn’tworkingrightnow?!?! OkayI’llcallbackanothertime. [click]
  • Your voice isn’t working? Wasn’t that better before? Why is it back now?
  • Do I need to get the machine? The, uh, DDT?
  • Oh honey, you sound TERRIBLE.
  • I like talking to you better when your voice is working.

Make a Phone Call

[Nervously] HELLO?

[Scared] WHO IS THIS?!



Am at Home


Yes, I understand you! I’ve already done it!

[An hour later]

You want me to make you a protein drink?

No, there isn’t one made. But I can make one now.

An hour ago? Oh! I thought you were asking if I’d let the dog out!

Attend a Teleconference

Hi. This is Mary. Who else is here?

This is Sheila.

Hi Sheila.

Hi Mary.

So I guess we’re the only two in here?

I thought there were supposed to be three people per break-out group?

Well, I guess it’s just the two of us! Let’s get started!

Answer the Phone


Hello, is someone there?

Oh! Is . . . uh? . . . Betsy? . . . There??

I’ll just send her an email. [click]

Make a Phone Call

  • You sound AWFUL!
  • Can you speak UP?
  • Uh-oh, this sounds like a bad voice day. We can talk another time.
  • You’re having problems with your voice again? But you sounded fine last time I talked to you.
  • Hello? Is anyone there? [click]
  • I can’t hear you! You’re holding the phone too far from your mouth!

Attend a Teleconference

I’m just so inspired by your courage.

Well, to attend something like this, I just don’t know if I’d have the courage….

I just find you really inspiring.

Answer the Phone

Hello? Hello?

Do I have the wrong number? I’m trying to reach Betsy?

Is this the number for BETSY?

IthinkIhavethewrongnumber [click]

Make a Phone Call via the Relay





Answer the Phone

Hello is Betsy there?

You can take a message?

Do. You. Have. PAPER?

And. A. PEN?

This. is. Jane. Doe. D-O-E. My. NUMBER. is. 4.1.3… 1.2.3……

Can you read that back to me?


If you want to watch a slew of “Shit People Say” videos relating to disability, here are a bunch on youtube. My favorites are Shit People Say to Non-Verbal People, Shit Healthy People Say to Sick PeopleShit People Say to the DisabledShit People Say to Service Dog Handlers, Shit People Say to People with Disabilities, and Sh*t People Say to People with Psychological Disabilities.

P.S. I decided not to cover ground I’ve already posted on about my speech impairment.


Shit People Say to People with Speech Impairments — 1 Comment

  1. this is one of those things that’s really, really difficult for me. i have a hard time translating spoken words into words in my head that i can comprehend, and phone calls, most accents and sometimes speech impairments are even more difficult to translate for me. one of the things i struggle with is explaining this to people politely in settings where i can’t necessarily explain why (like at work when helping customers). i usually default to “i’m sorry, i’m having a really hard time understanding.” do you think this is an appropriate way of wording it? is there a way i can be more polite about the issue? i know it sucks to not be understood and people being rude about it when it happens to me.

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