|"I dreaded the moment when we would have to return the computer... It just was not an option!"
Seven-year-old Shai Chayat suffers from a rare syndrome known as Marshal Smith, which prevents her from communicating through normal speech. Over the last year, Shai began to "speak" through a special augmentative communication computer that enables her to form sentences, express herself and make contact with those around her.
Shai's parents, Irit and Danny, borrowed the device that costs close to $5,500 from Ezer Mizion's unique VOCA (Voice Output Communication Aids) Lending Center.
When the end of the loan period approached, the Chayats knew they would have to return the device, for the benefit of many others awaiting their turn.
"The tremendous change the computer made in Shai's life is unbelievable... We could not accept the thought that Shai would have to manage without the computer. It just wasn't an option, and we were willing to fight on her behalf!"
Shai's story had a happy ending: The school she attends sent an article about her plight to an American donor. He was so touched by the thought that without the computer, Shai would not be able to say, "I want Grandma," that he decided to cover the entire expense for a personal computer for her use. But what about all the other children - and adults - like Shai?
Today, the trend in augmentative communication is towards less costly, user-friendly iPad devices, which can be programmed with exciting, auditory feedback programs that open new horizons for the speech-disabled.
The programs use instant gratification methods and a combination of audio and visual stimuli to rivet the children's attention and advance their communication in giant leaps.
The cost of an iPad, a protective case, and all the necessary programs amounts to $1,250. A donation of just $10,000 to Ezer Mizion's VOCA lending center can change the lives of eight more children like Shai and enable them to say "Thank you for helping me discover a new world!"