Arlyn Edelstein is a 70-year-old nonverbal cerebral palsy patient who has been left speechless by her condition. But with the help of a new and innovative voice-generating device called Voz Box, she was able to read her own poetry out loud last September in State College, Pennsylvania.
Project Vive, the startup company that developed the device, has launched crowdsourcing campaign “A Journey to Ten Voices” to fund ten more Voz Boxes for adults with certain voice-robbing conditions such as cerebral palsy or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
The device is customizable for each patient, explained Victoria Babb, Marketing Coordinator for Project Vive, in an interview with Lady Freethinker. “Each user is fitted with a customized sensor based on what body part they have the most control over. This means we can work with gloves with sensors for motions like a press of a finger, raise of a hand, wrist twist, and/or foot pedal.”
There are other voice generating products on the market now, but their costs can range from $5,000 to $16,000 and they have a steep learning curve.
“They can be complex to learn for both the user and caregiver, which in many cases can lead to the devices being shelved due to frustrations, “ said Babb. “The Voz Box is different because it is made for people with low-motor control, does not limit them to a localized area to use their device, is simple in its use, and comes with training for the user and their caregiver.”
The Voz Box costs $1,000, which covers equipment, maintenance, and training.
Still, $1,000 is a lot of money for financially strapped patients. That’s where the “Journey to Ten Voices” campaign comes in and runs through December 9th, 2016.
If the goal of $10,000 is reached, ten Pennsylvania adults will receive the devices and will provide Project Vive valuable feedback on how to improve the device for future and more numerous recipients.
“This is a milestone for our project as we’ve reached the point where we can provide a turn-key, field tested unit for a fraction of the cost of the other products currently available,” said McCulloch, CEO and founder of Project Vive. “Our aim is to give voices to the tens of thousands of people who need to be heard.”
The response from prototype users has been “unbelievably positive,” according to Babb.
“For all the reasons that our Voz Box is unique, our users and their caregivers love it. You have to remember that most of these users haven’t had devices like this in their lives. This not only give users a voice, but they can truly communicate their thoughts and emotions.”
With her new voice, Edelstein said it best: “I think that the idea has been in the back of my mind for years, but I never thought it would become real. I never thought I would have the opportunity of having people hear my words.”
If you would like to know more information about Project Vive or how you can donate, please visit ProjectVive.com.