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9-Year-Old Girl Who Can't Speak Receives $16,000 Talking Device

"Thank you for giving me a voice."

Madrona Hartford using her new Tobii ATI device to help her speak; mother Chris in background. (Photo: KOMO News)

Madrona Hartford, a 9 year old from Bellingham, Wash., is talkative, but probably not in a way that you would expect. Madrona has cerebral palsy and has to use an eye-tracking communication device, but her old one couldn't keep up with her chatter.

KOMO News has more:

This isn’t Madrona’s first such-device, her parents said. Her first voice came in the form of Tobii's first generation device--a small carry-on luggage-sized machine that wasn't fast enough to keep up with everything Madrona had to say.

So when the new version came out, the family began to explore their options for Madrona. At first, Chris said, they were told that Madrona wouldn't have the physical ability to use the machine, and so some doctors wouldn't recommend it for her.

But within twenty seconds of the new device being turned on and set up in front of her, Madrona was proving her skeptics wrong, working through the electronic pages faster Bengen could even show them to her.

The Tobii ATI device, which costs $16,000, was donated to Madrona by the widowed wife of the company's owner who passed away from ALS.

Here's what Madrona had to say:

To control the voice, Madrona uses her pupils to select pre-programmed phrases and emotions, and she can type her own words as well.

For Madrona's parents, having her speak though this device "helps [them] get through the parts that are hard about being the parent of a child with a disability,” Chris Hartford said.

[H/T: Fark.com]

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