Local girls benefit from language device

Sarah Amos and Kenyana Harper are in the Speed-Special Education Program at Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights.

Two years ago they got their own Dynavox MT4.

Dynavox is a voice output device that enables individuals to speak. Using a keyboard that has different language applications the girls can program phrases and sentences.

The Dynavox costs between $8,000 and $10,000 dollars.

Although Sarah and Kenyana have been best friends for years, their ability to communicate with each other was limited.

"And that's when we looked into using augmentative communication device for them,"said Maureen O'Malley, speech pathologist for the program.

"I have known Sarah and Kenyana for about 2 years. I've seen them become much more comfortable using their devices, much more willing to use their devices with strangers, much more willing to initiate interactions with other people and not sit back and wait for someone to come and initiate with them," said O'Malley.

Kenyana's mom Valarie Hooper says the Dynavox has opened her daughter's world.

"Boys, clothes, Elvis Presley, singers, a lot of things that I didn't really think she was communicating," she said.

It eases her mom's fear of not being able to communicate.

Sarah's mom Michelle see improvement in school.

"It has helped her to participate a little more in school because even though she does some signing, it's not proficient as it should be and then a lot of times the teachers they didn't know," said Hooper.

"Despite their disability, they don't really let their disability hold them back. They've taught us a lot as far as they have a lot of determination, they can communicate pretty much anything that they want and they're able to use their device in a wide variety of ways," Michelle said.

Several weeks ago, Sarah and Kenyana received the Infinitec's Outstanding Student Technology Achievement Award through UCP/ Infinitec Southwest Center.

For more information on Dynavox, please visit www.Dynavox.com.

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