Disabled teenage girl left unable to communicate after her voice machine is stolen by thieves, as father launches campaign
The devastated parents of a teenager with cerebral palsy have launched a campaign after her speech machine, the one way she has of communicating, was stolen from their car.
16-year-old Miya Thirlby’s specially-programmed machine, called a liberator accent 100, costs £6,000 and took the family six months to acquire and program three years ago.
The theft took place overnight between January 8 and 9 when someone gained access to a blue VW vehicle in Pennycross and snatched a speech generating device.
Her father, Paul Johnson 40, said she has been unable to communicate since Tuesday when a thief broke into his car and stole the device. He has started a social media search, and his tweet has been shared 6,000 times.
Mr Johnson, from Pennycross, Plymouth said that he was shocked by the kindness of strangers, who have offered to help him pay for a new one, and the many people, including former footballer Alan Shearer, who have messaged lending their support.
Mr Johnson, who is a Business Analyst, said: ” I just put it on Twitter – I don’t have thousands of followers – I was just hoping that word would get spread. I didn’t think it would be shared as much as it did. Alan Shearer posted it to his followers and sent me a message!”
Miya is able to speak to her parents by looking at pictures on the screen, which then tracks her eye movements. He explained: “It’s called an accent 1400, it’s called an eye gaze, she looks at the pictures and that’ll speak for her – if it’s a picture of her mum it’ll say mum.
“It’s got little interactive cartoons, it helps her be active with her brain.”
The family is desperate to get the device back, and her father has been searching high and low for it, and after he reported the theft to the police he went around every second-hand and computer shop in the area.
He said: “Every one is designed for a different client as her eyes look differently to anyone else so it would have to be designed specifically for her needs.
“Everything would have to be designed for Miya. That could take time, it wouldn’t be an overnight thing.”
To scrape together money for the first device, the family had fundraised including holding bake sales and members of the public helped with the efforts. Because of this, the family is loath to start up a fundraising campaign for a new one until it is certain the stolen device won’t be returned.
Mr Johnson put out an appeal to the thief and said: “If the thief has a conscience and realises what it is they stole, they should hand it in to the police.”
Read the full article online: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/11/disabled-teenage-girl-left-unable-communicate-voice-machine/
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