Accessibility Aids in the Life of Former Hospice Patient

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 8.50.32 AMGrowth in technology has reached all walks of life, easing the completion of nearly all daily tasks for many Americans. For Michael Leonard, though, recent access to a new computer program has not just aided in daily life, it has enabled a life that might otherwise be impossible. Leonard, 52, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of 30 and

Fortunately for Leonard, though, he found himself relying less and less on Owen’s care during the summer months, often using her visits as friendly conversations rather than patient services. With his pain and symptoms so well-managed, Leonard said Owen often asked what she could do to help in any way.

“She was at my house one day,” Leonard said, “and we were just talking and she said something along the lines of ‘I just don’t feel like I’m doing too much for you. If I could do anything for you, what would it be?’ And I just told her, ‘Get me a nice laptop computer.’ I didn’t mean it very seriously. She said say anything so I said anything.”

Owen took the idea and ran with it. Through her work with hospice, Owen knew a grant could be possible for Leonard and his request. Dream Foundation, a national dream-granting organization for adults, seemed like a perfect fit.

“They have separate (applications) for hospice patients that they will expedite the process for,” Owen said. Because Leonard was still under hospice care at the time, he could quickly become a grant candidate.

“I had to write a letter to go along with (the application) so I collaborated with Michael on it and typed most it out for him and let him read it and sign it. Just kind of telling a story of how we felt like the computer would benefit him and improve his ability to socialize and lessen his isolation.”

Fast forward four months and Leonard was granted his wish: a brand new laptop with voice recognition software thanks to the installation of Nuance Communications Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Leonard now enjoys full capability of the computer using a headset to communicate with the computer to run different programs.

“It’s really remarkable,” Leonard said, joking that the program even asks for your specific accent upon installation. He chose the southern accent, of course. (Read more…)