Wounded Veteran: Voice-Controlled Laptop "Changed My Life"

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Inspiration and Co-founder of Project Valour-IT Tells How Software Helped Him Cope

When Project Valour-IT began in 2005, it used Nuance's Dragon software to help severely wounded troops.

The use of Dragon Naturally Speaking to use a computer, to connect, to do something that I was able to do before I was injured made me feel somewhat whole, somewhat normal, for the first time.

Army Major Chuck Ziegenfuss, wounded Iraq veteran and inspiration for Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT, has won an award for describing how the software used by Valour-IT improves his life. Called Dragon Naturally Speaking, it allows users to operate a computer by voice, giving independence and self-confidence to the severely wounded.

Nuance, the maker of Dragon, recently sponsored a competition for users to describe how Dragon improves their lives, work, or creativity. Major Ziegenfuss won three years of Dragon software updates and an electronic personal travel assistant for his entry about how Dragon "changed my life."

"I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to regain control of the life that was temporarily robbed from me," Ziegenfuss wrote, describing his experiences after being nearly killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Iraq. "The use of Dragon Naturally Speaking to use a computer, to connect, to do something that I was able to do before I was injured made me feel somewhat whole, somewhat normal, for the first time."

Major Ziegenfuss' experience with the technology led to Soldiers' Angels purchasing Dragon Naturally Speaking to help severely wounded veterans connect to the world through laptops the organization provided. In its three years of existence, Project Valour-IT has distributed over 2,700 laptops. As Major Ziegenfuss continues to recover, he has become intimately involved in the project, helping others feel whole and normal after being wounded. "It has been my distinct pleasure and honor to give that feeling, a feeling of ability, to our wounded. Dragon has not only improved my life, it has changed my life."

Soldiers' Angels salutes Major Ziegenfuss for his commitment to helping his fellow wounded, and congratulates Nuance for its product that changes lives. Says Patti Patton-Bader, founder of Soldiers' Angels, "It takes both technology and the human touch to help our wounded warriors recover, and Soldiers' Angels is thrilled to see the two work together so well in Project Valour-IT."

SOLDIERS' ANGELS is a volunteer-led 501(c)(3) non-profit providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the U.S. military and their families. Comprised of 200,000 volunteer members in over twenty different teams and programs, activities include letters, care packages, and comfort items to the deployed, and support for their families at home. The organization also provides assistance to the wounded, continuing support for veterans, remembrances and comfort for families of the fallen, and immediate response to unique difficulties. See http://www.soldiersangels.org for more information.

NUANCE is a leading provider of speech and imaging solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.nuance.com or http://www.nuance.com/news/pressreleases/2008/20080806_dragonstories.asp.

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Patti Bader
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