Baltimore Aphasia Center Uses Innovative VAST® Technology to Empower Stroke Survivor to Announce Fundraising Event Featuring Astronaut Captain Mark Kelly

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The Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement (SCALE) uses unique speech therapy technology to help spread the word about an upcoming Aphasia Awareness Event featuring Captain Mark Kelly, Astronaut and husband of former U.S Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

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The Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement (SCALE), Maryland's only Community Treatment Center for People with Aphasia and their families, is having its first fundraiser. SCALE is hosting "An Evening with Captain Mark Kelly," astronaut and husband of former US Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and author of "Gabby, A Story of Courage & Hope" on Monday, December 10, 2012, 7:30 p.m. at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. Captain Kelly will discuss his new role as caregiver since the assassination attempt on his wife as well as his adventures in space exploration.

Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head in Tucson, Arizona in January, 2011. Her injury caused aphasia-a language disorder that impairs a person's ability to speak, read and write. Nationally, more than 2 million Americans (or 1 in 250) suffer from some form of aphasia, and more than 80,000 new cases of aphasia are being reported each year. Yet, statistics show that only one in every 100 people knows what the term aphasia means. Even fewer people know how significantly it impacts a person's life.

Individuals with aphasia can lose the ability to speak, read, write or understand, while at the same time their intellectual capacities and memory remain intact. This debilitating and extraordinarily frustrating condition is commonly caused by a stroke, brain tumor, head injury, or neurological disorder. Aphasia is the result of damage to the language center of the brain. Although language abilities are impaired, intellect remains intact. With appropriate support, people with aphasia are able to reveal their competency and intellect.

Recent advances in technology are disarming misconceptions about people with aphasia, as they are being empowered to produce complex language with the support of programs that are used on mobile devices such as the iPad. Stroke survivors with aphasia in Baltimore are fortunate to have a place like SCALE, specifically designed to provide them access to these programs and technologies. At SCALE, an array of technology is used to assist stroke survivors to speak, read and write. Howard Snyder, a stroke survivor and spokesperson for SCALE, has been empowered to speak about the upcoming event with Mark Kelly using the VAST® program which supports people with aphasia and apraxia through technology. VAST is an innovative research based application of video technology designed to facilitate and improve communication abilities for speech-impaired individuals. Following close-up video of mouth movements combined with visual and auditory cues allows individuals to readily produce speech. SpeakinMotion LLC has made this approach available to the masses through its speech therapy apps and custom recording service. Howard prepared a speech as an invitation to SCALE's event and submitted his speech electronically. Within a short time, he received his custom video at various rates of speed, tailored to his individual needs. He downloaded the video to his IPad and is now able to use the video to assist him in fluently delivering his invitation to the event.

Without the use of VAST, Howard's speech output is limited. Presenting a 2 minute invitation would not be possible for him. However, using VAST, Howard's output is fluent and intelligible and his presentation reveals his competency and intellect. Howard and other members of SCALE are enthusiastic about the potential of using VAST to express their complex thoughts and opinions and to educate the wider public about aphasia
Watch and hear Howard use VAST to invite the community to SCALE's Evening with Mark Kelly

Tickets for the event include a VIP option - priority seating, book signing opportunity, and a reception with Captain Kelly before the program. General admission and student discount tickets are also available.
Ticket information for this great event can be found at

SCALE is also securing sponsorships for the Captain Mark Kelly Event. For more information concerning a sponsorship opportunity, please contact Judi Snyder at jsnyder (at) scalebaltimore (dot) org or call SCALE at 410.323.1777. Proceeds from the event will support SCALE's Scholarship Fund to assist those in need of tuition assistance for programs and services.

To learn more about VAST and SpeakinMotion's services please visit

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Sean Keegan
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