A Letter of Appreciation


PLEASE NOTE: I received this email letter of appreciation unsolicited in the normal course of business correspondence concerning Touch Voice over the winter season.  I would like to share it with you to give perspective on the challenges of the speech impaired. I am very proud to be the founder of Touch Voice. 


Dear Mr. McAnally of Touch Voice,

Thank you so very much for making this technology available as an iPad & Android app! I have been a RN and nurse practitioner since 1978, and most recently retired from an executive position at a Texas health science center. This facility included schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical/occupational/speech therapy, and a physicians assistant program. The reason I have provided a mini-resume is to let you know that I have been involved in the medical field for almost 40 years. Over 4 decades, I have observed many changes in technology.

The reason I retired is more pertinent to this communication. In January of 2007, I was diagnosed with ALS. Since my wife and I are both nurses, we knew exactly what to expect of this disease, and we agreed to attack ALS with vigor equal to the the energy we extended to gain our advanced degrees.

As you may know, ALS can have an initial onset at either upper limbs, lower limbs, or the bulbar area of the neurological system. Mine was lower limb onset, but I have been fortunate in that the disease progression has been comparatively slow. When I began having swallowing problems, the speech therapist suggested that I obtain a DynaVox Technologies EyeMax voice computer. This system provides phenomenal technology, in that it follows pupillary movement of the eyes, as well as eye blink rate. For someone that has no ability to move their body at all, the eye tracking technology is a wonderful benefit. You may have seen this technology as utilized by the physicist Stephen Hawking.

Finally, the reason for this email; Both locally, and online, I have tried to use my knowledge of patient care and ALS to serve as a resource to other people diagnosed with ALS.

Though I was fortunate to receive my EyeMax through a grant, there are many people out there with bulbar onset ALS that cannot afford the $14,000 DynaVox system. Fortunately, I discovered your Touch Voice software! Your affordable application has been a Godsend for people that are unable to speak for themselves. As one reviewer stated, the voice is somewhat robotic on the iPad version. Regardless, your app has been a miracle for people that cannot speak for themselves.

I just want to let you know that your work is making life much easier for people like my good friend who has bulbar onset ALS. He can still walk and use his hands, but cannot speak or swallow. He requires a PEG feeding tube. This Christmas, possibly his last one, when he interacts with his children and grandchildren, he will not have to use pencil and paper to communicate with those that he loves. He will be using an iPad with your app! I wish you could have seen his face when I made him aware of your app. He is so very excited about his new found ability to join conversations!

Best regards,

Earl Balzen, RN, MSN, MBA, FNP, PNP