Graduates get a grasp on speech

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A DEVICE invented by graduates from Yorkshire is helping to give a voice to people left isolated by severe speech impediments.

Former Sheffield University students Vinoth Gurasamy, 25, Kalhana Colombage, 25, and Hossein Mohanna, 28, have produced a glove which acts as a speech aid.

The device converts finger movements into gestures which control speech through a synthesised voice. Each user wears the glove and moves their fingers in order to articulate more than 1,000 words or commands.

Mr Gurasamy, who graduated from Sheffield with a masters in aerospace engineering, said: “Our inspiration for the invention was an eight-year-old girl who we met during our course where we observed people with communication difficulties.

“She was able to do everything apart from speak and the only equipment she had was a huge keyboard which helped her say a limited amount of words. It was extremely big and she found it very difficult to carry around.

“Meeting her motivated us and made us determined to help others in a similar situation.”

The team have worked with William Broad, 73, from Sheffield who suffered a stroke in 2010 leaving him unable to talk. The former steel-worker can now articulate more than 16 words and phrases including: “I am hungry”, “my name is William”, “thank you” and “what time is it?”.

His daughter, Keeley Bellamy said: “The glove is absolutely remarkable and has made such a difference for both dad and for the family. Dad is such an intelligent and able person so it is unbelievably frustrating for him not to be able to communicate with his loved ones.”