Two students with cerebral palsy have been given the life-changing ability to clearly communicate through speech for the first time in 50 years.
Epping Forest College’s Gavin King and and Susan Collins have spoken of their joy after funding was found for the £3,000 Allora 2 text-to-speech devices.
Ms Collins, 59, of Mill Lane Ongar, is completely unable to speak naturally and Mr King, 57, of Boscombe Avenue, Leyton, has difficulty forming clear words, forcing him to constantly repeat phrases in order to be understood.
The device, which was chosen for its ease-of-use and portability, was sourced by their tutor of seven years, Andrea Slade.
In a joint letter to The Special Equipment and Aids for Living Trust (Sequal), which helped fund the devices, the pair said: “We really can’t find the words to express how so very grateful to you we are.
“This is the first time either of us have had a voice to express our needs and wants and to respond and converse with others.
“It feels wonderful for us to be able to speak, and it has had a significant impact on both of our lives, nothing less than life changing.
“It has made a huge difference in every area to both of our lives, whether at home, college or out in the community.”
Ms Slade described the impact the devices would have.
She said: “Both of them have a lot to say but it’s locked inside.
“The devices will benefit their English skills and their spelling as well as changing their lives.”
Funding from private donations, a contribution from the college and money raised by Sequal was used to pay for the equipment.