Technology Gives Voice to People with Disabilities

A bar mitzvah boy with autism "speaks" during services; an ALS sufferer could have recorded his voice while he had the chance.

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A boy with autism “speaks” during bar mitzvah with the help of an iPad. (Photo: Boston Globe)

By Julie Jacobson
March 06, 2012
A friend in the industry tells me of a home-control system he installed for an individual in the early stages of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Naturally, it reminded me of the story we did last year on the amazing ways technology is helping 20 Boston-area residents in the late stages of ALS and MS.

In the most recent case, the integrator wished the client would have recorded his voice when he still had it, in preparation for text-to-speech.

“Things move so fast,” he says. “I got involved when he [the client] was already having a hard time speaking clearly and we missed the opportunity to get his natural voice digitally recorded to get ready for text-to-talk.”

He adds that the client “put it off because it became a landmark on a scary journey that he desperately didn’t want to see.”

RELATED: Home Automation Brings Dignity, Independence to Residents with ALS

It reminded me of this excellent article in a recent issue of the Boston Globe: iPad gives boy a voice at his bar mitzvah.

Here, a young man with autism who utters only a few simple words like “mama” and “dada” was able to lend his personality to a bar mitzvah in which he pressed buttons on an iPad to initiate spoken words.

It’s a marvel! Are you using technology to its fullest?


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