Brian Sullivan, a technology director at a school in Massachusetts, has created an app called Mano Žodis! (My Word!) that can help Lithuanian speakers who've suffered a stroke communicate better.
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Brian Sullivan, a technology director at a school in Massachusetts, has created an app called Mano Žodis! (My Word!)that can help Lithuanian speakers who've suffered a stroke communicate better.

When someone suffers a stroke, it can often make it difficult for them to communicate. That's exactly what happened to Sullivan's brother-in-law when he suffered a stroke.

“My brother-in-law suffered a pretty serious stroke in 2009, when he was 22,” Sullivan told the Telegram. “Sometime within the next year after that, I toyed with being able to design a mobile application for him. He suffered from aphasia, where the area of the brain that deals with language processing makes a person have trouble connecting thoughts to the right words. It seemed, especially in his language, that no software existed to make this process easier.”

The process led Sullivan, who is a technical director at the Sizer School in Fitchburg, on a learning process. Though he had some experience with programming, he took a coding class to make the app that eventually inspired him to take a master's degree in information technology.

“I started in fall of 2014, really seriously, planning how it would work... doing a lot of research, including proven effective methods of assisting aphasia victims with speech. I started studying other apps for English and other languages that did what I was planning to do for Lithuanian speakers, assessing their strong points and downfalls. Then, I started programming in January of 2015 and had a workable app by May, to complete my capstone project. The app then took another 10 months or so to become salable,” said Sullivan.

The program works with simple pictures that the user can click on to form simple sentences that it then reads out loud. It helps people who know what they want to say but don't know how to say it communicate.

The app has been published on the iTunes store for $9.99. The website describes the app as “Mano Žodis! is an Assistive and Augmentative Communication (AAC) tool for iPad that has been created for Lithuanian language speakers.”

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