RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A new device created by a VCU graduate is poised to give a voice to people who can't speak.
Matt Reamer now lives in Los Angeles, but lived in Richmond for 26 years and got his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University. He's leading a team of engineers working on Dustin's Words, a hand-held tool that allows people who can't speak due to a disability to communicate with their parents or caregivers through text messaging.
Reamer says his brother Dustin, who has autism, was the inspiration for the device. He built a prototype for Dustin in 2014, allowing his brother to tell him or their parents what he needs at the push of a button.
The device is powered by a USB cable, and features six buttons that can be programmed with responses.
Reamer has started an Indiegogo fundraising campaign with the hope of raising enough money to build 100 Dustin's Words devices and donate them to families who need them. The website explains that the device is for people who can't speak and the family members, caregivers and teachers who help them every day. Reamer and his team are building Dustin's Words for people with non-verbal autism, non-verbal learning disorder, ALS, Rett Syndrome, traumatic brain injury; plus stroke victims and anyone with limited mobility. According to the website, future versions of Dustin's words could be battery powered and feature more than six buttons.