Technology is constantly developing and enabling us to reach beyond our boundaries in new and extraordinary ways.
If it weren’t for advances in voice assistance technology, for instance, high school students like Ahmed Ali of Minneapolis, Minnesota would have remained silent as his classmates gave speeches during his graduation ceremony. Instead, Ahmed was able to congratulate his fellow graduates and impart his words of wisdom directly to them even though he has been nonverbal for his entire life.
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Ahmed recently graduated from the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Transition Plus program which helps special needs students with educational difficulties transition from high school to adult life. Ali spent three years in the program, and during his time at the school he worked with a speech pathologist to learn how to use voice assistance technology. This device enables Ali to speak using an electronic voice simulator, giving the charismatic young man the chance to finally be heard among his peers.
It was Ahmed’s classmates who elected him class speaker after he rose above the crowd in his leadership class. Fellow students recognized Ahmed as a friendly person with a lot of wisdom to impart. He’d earned himself a few nicknames during his time at Transitions Plus, including “Smiley,” “Hollywood,” and “Baby Obama.”
Having a student use voice assistance technology during a graduation speech was a first for the Minnesota school district, but Ahmed did not disappoint. His speech was equal parts articulate, poignant, and at times even humorous.
“Your life is a relay race,” Ahmed told his fellow graduates.
“The track is your life. Every time you achieve something you pass the baton to the next person. Guess who you are passing the baton to? It’s you. Each stage of your life you are passing it to a new you. It’s not the end of the line for you, but it’s a new you in our beautiful world.”
Jason Backes, Principal of Transition Plus, said that he wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear the wise words Ahmed wrote himself to impart to his classmates on graduation day.
“He was chosen by the graduation committee to give the commencement address because of his growth while at Transition Plus in so many areas and his leadership skills,” Jason stated.
“Ahmed is just an amazing young man who has really captured the hearts of everyone he has come into contact with. When he came to us we just knew that he had something special… he’s a very intelligent young man who we believe didn’t have a chance to have a voice in the past.”
This is one of the most important technological advances we can think of for people like Ahmed! This technology does indeed give a voice to the voiceless, removing the disability and allowing the true strength of the human mind to really shine. We’re so glad we got to hear Ahmed’s words of wisdom, and we’re certain this isn’t the last we’ll hear from this remarkable young man.
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