Grace Simon is all smiles as her parents, Jennifer and Eric Simon kiss her simultaneously after they visited the class where Michigan Engineering students pitched their software development ideas on how to improve the ways Grace communicates with the people around her.
To signal “yes,” Grace Simon raises her right fist. For “no,” she shakes her head. And that, for the most part, is how the 13-year-old communicates with the world.
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at six months old, Grace doesn’t have the muscle control to speak, sign or walk. But her capable mind understands spoken language.(She’s actually kind of nosy, says her mother.) She reads chapter books. Her favorite subject is math.
“She’s really bright on the inside, but she just can’t get it out,” said David Chesney, a University of Michigan lecturer in computer science and engineering who has built a syllabus around Grace.
This semester, the 80 students in his software engineering course are working to help her.
Chesney has challenged them to design and build systems that could make it easier for Grace to communicate, play, or be more independent at school or home. Monday, Septyember 16, 2013
Photo by Marcin Szczepanski
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- Marcin Szczepanski
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- Michigan Engineering