Welcome to the SHARE Foundation, Inc.
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Founded in 1981, the Society for Human Advancement through Rehabilitation Engineering (SHARE) Foundation, Inc., is a non-profit foundation that supports the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Rehabilitation Engineering. The Center's engineers develop, build and provide computer-enhanced adaptive equipment for children and adults with disabilities.
The SHARE Foundation's mission is to empower physically challenged, non-speaking children and adults to express their basic wants and needs, communicate with others, control their immediate environments and achieve the greatest practical level of independence. SHARE succeeds in its mission by directing resources that enable the design, adaptation and fabrication of high technology equipment tailored specifically to the unique abilities of every individual who seeks help.
SHARE provides the revenue necessary to ensure that the Center's clients are provided with the highest quality of service available. The Board of Directors and friends of the SHARE Foundation also have well-defined visions for the Center's expansion plans. In 1982, the Center served three clients. By 1990, it had served 800 and by 2000, it had provided services for nearly 2,000 people. It is the Center's goal to substantially increase the number of clients it serves each year and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its work. As more and more people with disabilities learn about SHARE, the organization expects to grow not only in numbers, but also in quality.
SHARE's work began when UMass Dartmouth Professor Lester W. Cory was drawn to a 1981 news story about a young woman with cerebral palsy. Linda Texceira's sole means of communication was by shifting her eye gaze to select letters on a Plexiglas board held up by another person. Professor Cory arranged a visit with Linda to determine if his expertise in computer technology could help her. He was convinced that something could be designed to enable Linda to communicate independently through the use of computers. Cory enlisted the help of a colleague, Professor Philip Viall. They spent several months developing a computer system that enabled Linda to spell, write sentences and to "speak" using an electronic voice.
Hearing of their success, the families of those in situations similar to Linda's sought out Professors Cory and Viall seeking solutions for their loved ones' inability to communicate. Initially, it appeared that Linda's system could be duplicated for other users. However, every individual who came seeking help presented a unique set of abilities and needs requiring individually designed systems. If they were to continue designing and building high-technology adaptive equipment, the two would need additional volunteers, a place to work and a source of funds. Professor Richard Walder joined the team and SHARE was born.
Since 1981, SHARE has experienced great successes. The organization has helped to enrich the lives of more than 2,000 individuals with disabilities by enabling them to communicate through the use of computers and technology. SHARE has also enjoyed national recognition, earning the prestigious President's Volunteer Action Award and the American Institute for Public Service's National Jefferson Award. In honor of their contributions, SHARE and its volunteers have received citations and awards from state legislatures, AMVETS, Yankee Magazine, the Salvation Army and numerous other local and national organizations.
The SHARE Foundation provides revenue for the operations of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Rehabilitation Engineering. The services provided by the Center are unique. Engineers create custom technical solutions for clients with physical challenges. The nature of their physical challenges can be seen in the technical solutions and services that the Center provides. Here are a few examples:
- An 11-year old boy after being struck by a car was paralyzed below his neck. SHARE developed a sip and puff system that enabled him to control everything from his remote control car to his home computer.
- A 35-year-old woman with cerebral palsy wanted to work from home despite an inability to use her hands effectively. With the system we developed, she was able realize her dream of operating a successful magazine subscription business.
- A 13 -year-old-girl with a rare degenerative disease that slowly degraded her fine motor skills came to SHARE for help. In a wheelchair, unable to play computer games and unable to email, she needed a way to do things for herself. We provided her with a speech recognition system that allowed her to communicate with family and friends around the country independently, and play computer games.
- A 45-year-old author with cerebral palsy developed a method of typing using a hook attached to his shoe. SHARE designed a system that allowed him to select words and pre-stored sentences by means of a simple foot-operated switch.
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