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Technology, Skill and Generosity Give Bob Rome the Gift of Voice

Home/Amazing Care/Technology, Skill and Generosity Give Bob Rome the Gift of Voice

Thanks to the combined efforts of the Willamette Valley Cancer Foundation, Speech Therapist Melinda Grady and technology, Bob Rome can speak again.

A retired contractor and Vietnam veteran, Rome was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer last year at age 70. He underwent a laryngectomy that removed his larynx and vocal folds, and left him without the ability to speak.

Now his long fingers grace the keys of an iPad as he types his message with purpose. Moments later his iPad and text to speak app are giving him voice, allowing him to live life fully, including his volunteer work at the Yamhill County Jail.

Every Saturday he mentors inmates, and now he can talk to them through his iPad, explained Rome via his text to speak app. “They look forward to seeing me, and they like my British accent,” smiles Rome as the iPad voices his typed words.

The base of Rome’s tongue is still intact, and his receptive language was not affected by the surgery. Dr. Inkeles, his primary care provider, connected Rome to Melinda Grady, a speech therapist here. Grady started him working with an electrolarynx, a battery-operated microphone that Rome places on his throat to pick up vibrations on the throat muscles.

But even with the electrolarynx his speech wasn’t clear, so Grady and the Foundation researched other possibilities. They decided the iPad and text to speak app would be the best solution.

They submitted the proposal for the iPad, text to speak app, keyboard, and stylus to the Willamette Valley Cancer Foundation. The entire package was approved, and Bob was soon on his way communicating better with his wife of 44 years, his two grown stepchildren, and many other loved ones.

Rome likes the portability of the electrolarynx and still uses it at times, but the iPad has transformed his communication world.

The text to speak app has a saved phrases function so Rome can enter questions and specific phrases in various categories. He uses these to prepare for a doctor’s appointment, and other events, even going to a restaurant. These saved phrases also came in handy when he gave a thank you presentation to the Cancer Foundation.

“This has changed my life. I feel so much better since Melinda and the Cancer Foundation have helped me cope with my aggravations,” said Rome. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me – now a gift of voice for me is like winning the lottery. I am so grateful.”