History of Supported Typing

What came to be known as Facilitated Communication was discovered independently in several countries. Rosemary Crossley began using physical support to help non-speaking individuals communicate in Australia during the 1970s, and continued to develop the method throughout the following decade.  Doug Biklen’s visit to the DEAL Center (Dignity, Education, and Language) in 1989 and subsequent research and publication (“Communication Unbound,” Harvard Educational Review, 1990) led to the rise of FC in the United States during the early 1990s, as well as the establishment of the Facilitated Communication Institute at Syracuse University in 1992. Since then, use of the method has grown and many individuals who once needed significant support have demonstrated the ability to type with no physical touch and/or to read aloud what they are typing.  Training from skilled facilitators and coaches can now be found through organizations around the United States and the world.

In 2010, after nearly two decades of existence, the Institute took on a new name -  the Institute on Communication and Inclusion (ICI).  The ICI name represents a broadened focus, reflecting lines of research, training, public education and information dissemination that focus on school and community inclusion, narratives of disability and ability, and disability rights. Its initiatives stress the important relationship of communication to inclusion.

Timeline of the History of FC and the ICI
Year Milestone
1974-1979 Rosemary Crossley (as an employee of St. Nicholas Hospital in Melbourne, Australia) begins exploring the use of physical support to enable non-speaking students to communicate.
1979 Anne McDonald leaves St. Nicholas Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and passes court validity test. Later, Rosemary and Anne publish a book Annie's Coming Out.
1986 DEAL center (Dignity, education, and Language) was established. FC was used with individuals with a variety of disabilities including cerebral palsy, autism and Downs Syndrome.
1989 Doug Biklen from Syracuse University visits DEAL for 4 weeks and observes 27 individuals using FC at varying levels of support including some who could type independently or with minimal support (hand on the shoulder).
1990 Doug Biklen publishes an account (“Communication Unbound”) of his DEAL observations in the Harvard Educational Review.
Early 1990s Excitement about facilitated communication results in rapid use of the method around the United States.
1992 FC is featured on the ABC news show, “Primetime Live.”
1992 The Facilitated Communication Institute is established at Syracuse University.
1993 Controversy about FC grows with negative findings in scientific studies and TV programs like Frontline.
1996 New research studies exploring alternative experimental designs are published which demonstrate positive findings for validity.
2000 Facilitated Communication Training Standards are published. It is the first comprehensive set of guidelines to outline best practices for FC, the framework for training and technical assistance, and facilitator competencies.
2001 FC continues to be used in various parts of the country with greater focus on training of facilitators and skill development of FC users. 
2004 Organization of trainers from around the country is established to work on developing resources for training and integrating the training for supported typing within the framework of AAC.
2005 The short Documentary, “My Classic Life as an Artist: A portrait of Larry Bissonnette” is released and wins numerous film awards, including the TASH Positive Media Award.
2005 The film “Autism is a World” is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject.
2006 At the FCI’s first Summer Institute, the Master Trainer Certification is initiated. 
2008 The institute receives funding from the John Hussman Foundation and initiates a new round of research studies focusing on independent typing, school policies and supports for training, higher education for individuals who type to communicate and message passing. 
2010 After 20 years, the Facilitated Communication Institute adopts a new name – The Institute on Communication and Inclusion – and a broadened focus.
2010 The documentary film, “Wretches & Jabberers and Stories from the Road,” featuring several individuals with autism from around the world who type to communicate, is released.
2011 DEAL Communication Centre is renamed Anne McDonald Centre in honor of Anne’s death in 2010.