Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Postback: The Silencing of Maya

An important thing to read for those interested in patent law and those who suffer from its implementation.

Not normally one to post this sort of thing, but this blog post passed through my social networking today, and I figured I would hip the geek community to it.  Here's just the first paragraph:

Eleven weeks ago I wrote about a lawsuit that posed a threat to my daughter’s voice.  Maya, who is four years old and unable to speak, uses an app called Speak for Yourself (SfY) to communicate, and the creators of SfY were being sued for patent infringement by Prentke Romich Company (PRC) and Semantic Compaction Systems (SCS), two much larger companies that make designated communication devices (not iPad apps).  You can read the original post here, and see the numerous news articles that were spurred by this case here.  Maya was poised to become a very real, very human, and very adorable casualty of patent law.

As a former social worker I cringe at the idea of a nonverbal human being who is denied a way to speak freely.  The costs of communications devices can be prohibitive to those who lack the coverage or ability to import the device from their chosen locales.  Sadly, the App Store has removed Speak for Yourself due to this infringement suit, which is currently being worked through by the involved parties.  I know we all have had a lot of fun with The Oatmeal's Operation Bear Love Good Cancer Bad, but in a world where a child can lose their voice and possibly never regain it due to a lack of funds?  It is truly a bad day for the world.  

So please, speak out, maybe leave a comment to Maya's mother.  In a world where so many just turn a blind eye, I hope that maybe our community can have a dialogue on the disadvantaged, and maybe a little bit of the Geek can rub off on this sweet young lady.