For patients who suffer from a severe speech disability and cannot speak, the ability to communicate often means the difference between wanting to die and wanting to live.
About eight in every 1,000 people in the world have lost their ability to verbalize as a result of stroke, traumatic brain injury, Lou Gehrig's or one of many neurological disorders. For these patients and families, South Side-based DynaVox Systems
is a lifesaver.
DynaVox Mayer Johnson is the world's leading developer of symbol-based communication software and speech generating devices for adults and children. It's also one of the fastest growing companies in the region with 200 employees and 350 employed worldwide.
From educational learning software to hardware communication solutions, Dynavox gives its customers more than just a device to convey words, it offers extensive support and counseling to help families secure funding and training to operate the products.
Dynavox's newest product is the Eyemax System, a unique tool that allows patients to communicate with the blink of an eye and simple head movements, the only system of its kind in the world. Used in tandem with the Vmax speech-generating system, the infrared light and camera technology allows adults and children to communicate through generated speech or the written word and send text messages, emails, even change channels on the TV.
More than 2 million in the U.S. alone could benefit from the device, yet only five percent own one, says Jim Shea, vice president of marketing. Few people know we exist and many don't know that funding is available to help cover the expense.
Dynavox hopes to change that.
"Since 1983, we've given a voice to tens of thousands of people," Shea says. "Speech is the key to what makes us human."
Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Jim Shea, DynaVox Mayer Johnson
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