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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.


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

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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Article Topics

Blogs · Home Health · Autism · Als · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

2 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Loren Roetman  on  03/06  at  12:17 PM

Wow, that Boston story is amazing too.
Thank you for sharing that.
It is so important to get awareness up, we can help a lot if we are creative and proactive.
Every single day that we can make easier and more enjoyable for these brave souls, makes a huge difference.

Posted by Wayne Caswell  on  03/09  at  05:14 PM

Julie, Thanks for another great article on how technology can help overcome disabilities. I’ll share the link with my disabled contacts. Keep up the good work.

I’m sure you know about Modern Health Talk and my interest in solutions for home healthcare and aging-in-place. You may be interested in an article that reviews 70+ accessible iPhone apps. It’s based on class material developed by a blind person for special education teachers. See

Maybe you can do a similar piece on home controls for the blind.

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