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SPECIAL TECHNOLOGY: ISU Students Help 4th Grader Communicate

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Christmas came a little early for one West Des Moines fourth grader.

Five Iowa State University senior design students presented Sam Wedig with special technology to help him communicate.

Sam attends Crossroads Park Elementary and has cerebral palsy, making it difficult for him to speak.

This semester, the mechanical engineering students worked with Sam to design a custom system so he can use his head to control a mouse.

That allows him to type what he wants to say.

“His speech is very hard to understand,” Henry Kelley says.

“If he’s able to use his head movements to type on an onscreen keyboard, he’ll be able to type out words and hopefully be able to communicate to other people what he actually wants, instead of being skewed by people suggesting what he wants.”

The project cost $1,200 and was funded by donations through Iowa State’s senior design program.


  • MaryCannon Derisory Apodaca

    So awesome. Following a brain stem stroke my uncle was unable to speak and used and eye movements to indicate letters on a clear plastic board to spell out words so he could communicate. (sorry I don’t recall the name of this method) Without it he couldn’t have communicated with his family. In time he learned to speak so that some could understand him, however I was never able to grasp what he was saying. I am so glad more is being done to allow brilliant minds to express themselves when physical conditions prevent speech. My Uncle was stricken in the early 80’s and spent the next almost 30 years struggling to make his thoughts known. Thanks to all who helped this child and will eventually help others to do the same.

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