Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
- Author(s): Lopez, Christina
- et al.
Master’s thesis project: Verbal Victor
Producer/Student: Christina Lopez
Verbal Victor is the story of Victor Pauca, an outgoing six-year-old boy diagnosed with Pitt Hopkins Syndrome in 2008. PTHS is a rare genetic disorder and changes the way the brain develops and functions.
Infants, toddlers, and children with PTHS develop more slowly than those without PTHS. Speech also typically develops more slowly than in babies that do not have PTHS. Although many people with PTHS do not talk, many are able to understand language and communicate with hand gestures, words, or short sentences. Many of the children that have been diagnosed with PTHS have repetitive motions and movements. For instance, they may flap their hands or rock themselves.
In 2010, a computer science professor from Wake Forest University in North Carolina enlisted the help of his engineer students and, together, developed software that would enable those with cognitive disabilities like PTHS to communicate with those around them. The application was named Verbal Victor.
Today the app is available for download on the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Since it’s release in December of 2010, Verbal Victor the app has been downloaded 3,000 times worldwide and retails for under $10. Now, the app is helping those with other cognitive disabilities including Asperger’s, Autism and stroke patients.