A second Epping Forest College student has been given a ‘voice’ thanks to a text-to-speech communication device.

Daniel Geggus was born with severe cerebral palsy which has left him with an inability to use his limbs or speak.  That was until a week ago when he received a text-to-speech communication device which enables him to communicate ‘vocally’. Daniel’s device uses symbols and simple language for understanding by him. To enable it, Daniel selects the symbols/words that he wants to communicate by using his thumb and a stylus to tap the touch screen. When he is ready to ‘talk’, he simply presses the ‘speak’ button.  In addition, he can also use the device to connect to the internet.

Daniel has been loaned the device from The Hub, based at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital. The funding that he has waited so long for will cover the cost of device loans for the rest of his life.

This is the second time that Preparation for Life and Work (PLW) tutor Andrea Slade has secured a text-to-speech device for a student. The first student to benefit was Mark Stratton.

Since Daniel started at Epping Forest College three years ago it has been a battle to acquire the devices that he has so desperately needed for access. While the college has provided him with temporary devices, tutor Andrea Slade has battled to secure funding for life-long bespoke devices that could be attached securely to his wheelchair and would enable him to have a ‘voice’ not only for college, but for home as well.

Daniel, 24, lives in Hornchurch, and has been studying a Skills for Independent Living Entry 2 programme at the college. He said he enjoys the course and studying at Epping Forest College, is very sociable, is a big football fan – and his favourite team is Arsenal. He is also keen on the digital game CandyCrush. Daniel is looking forward to going to Majorca, Spain, with his family, for his summer holiday.

Andrea said: “There has been rapid progress in technology and this appeared to be the way forward for people like Daniel. However the cost of electronic communication devices, such as the one that he has now been given, are extremely expensive and many people simply do not have the means to buy one. Instead they are simply left without the ability to communicate.”