Help an ALS patient "speak" again!

My name is Deanna and in March 2010, I was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease). If you aren't familiar with ALS, it is a terminal disease that destroys your nervous system. There is no cure and no known cause at this time. Every 90 minutes, someone is diagnosed with ALS and the percentage of people is increasing. The average lifespan is between 2 and 5 years and affects people of different races, ages, and genders. As the disease progresses, each person loses the ability to walk, talk, write, and eventually ends up unable to communicate or move. It affects all organs with the exception of the mind, eyes, and hearing.

In my case, I have lost the ability to move and I am losing the ability to speak. I will eventually be unable to talk at all. Unfortunately, due to recent changes in health care ALS patients who are in the same situation I am in will have to find their own way of funding communication devices. 

I have a nine year old son who needs to hear me and this device is critical to my quality of life. Imagine if you were not able to communicate but were able to hear and see everything going on around you. If you are able to donate, even small amounts, this money will go to pay for a communication device that will speak for me and is controlled by my eye movement. This unit is called a Tobii PC Eye Go and will connect to a lightweight tablet that I can mount to my wheelchair for portability. The communication software will not only speak for me but will also allow me to read and send emails and communicate via the internet to my friends and family.

The money raised will pay for a large tablet with the appropriate operating system and the eye tracking unit and software.  If you would like to see how this unit works for people like me, here is a link: http://www.tobii.com/en/assistive-technology/global/products/hardware/pceye/.

The ALS Association of East Tennessee has been wonderful with assisting me.  Unfortunately they are underfunded and the resources for these machines is limited but badly needed, not just for me but by other people in the ALS community.  When I no longer need my communication device, it will be donated to the ALS Association so that someone else will benefit and will not have to try and raise money for the device. 

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. (Please share this page with your friends as well!)
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Organizer

Deanna Jones Bland 
Organizer
Maryville, TN
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