Love, Compassion, Tenacity and a Desire to improve his Sister’s Life: A story about Eric Zeiberg
By Debra Ruh, CEO and Founder of Ruh Global Communications
What can we accomplish when we put our minds to it? Eric Zeiberg of Connecticut believes we can accomplish anything even helping his big sister learn to communicate with him.
It is always interesting when a friend or family member creates a product to help another friend or family member. This is a cool story about a young man that wanted to make a difference in another child’s life. At the time Eric was in the 6th grade and 11 years old. One of Eric’s family friends has muscular dystrophy and has trouble speaking. She is practicing physician and writes on a simple notepad that she wants to say, and shows to people to communicate. Eric was fascinated as she wrote something on paper and showed it to others. “It could have been so much better if she could write on iPad and iPad would “speak” for her,” Eric thought.
Eric was intrigued and did some research to discover there were no handwriting-to-text applications. He decided to create one because he knew it could help his friend but also could help his sister Julie. Julie now 23 was born with Autism and has speech impairments.
Eric says “Julie was my inspiration for the whole project. She can’t communicate, and it’s really hard for her to get words out. This is a starting point for helping her.” The app was finally ready on Dec. 2 with the debut of HandySpeech at Apple’s app
store, the only handwriting-to-speech iPad and iPad Mini. The application can help anyone with speech problems including people with Autism, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, CP, stroke, muscular dystrophy, and post-operation voice difficulties.
Plus it is easy to use. All it takes is a finger or a stylus to write in the yellow section at the bottom of the iPad screen, then hit the speech button, and the writing turns into a male or female voice.
Was HandySpeech easy to produce? “I started from scratch,” Eric said. “I didn’t know anything about the programming languages you use. I just had experience with computers. First I had to learn how to build the application — all the technologies and the Internet and how to code, and I used tutorials and websites to help me build it.”
Eric also gained two partners — text-to-speech software company iSpeech and handwriting recognition software maker PhatWare.
The app provides for automatic corrections, learns user writing patterns, and allows simple finger gestures to insert special characters such as space and return.
Eric has a new version with several new features including:
- Phrases: you’ll be able to scroll down a list of phrases such as “Please wait while I am writing” or “How are you?” and click on any one, and a voice will say it.
- Speech speed control, so you can slow down or speed up the voice.
- Ability to upload the app to an iPhone.
As you can imagine Eric’s father Boris is very proud of his son’s tenacity and desire to help not only his sister but millions of other people around the world.
“I am very proud of him because he put his mind together, saw it through, and did something significant, but mostly because he shows that he cares about people.” Boris Zeiberg
The App sells for $29.99 and can write and “speak” in 13 languages, including Dutch, French, German, Danish, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Italian, U.S. English, British English, and Portuguese as spoken in Brazil and as spoken in Portugal.