Ad-hoc charity group Valour-IT ("Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops") has donated more than 700 laptops loaded with voice-recognition software to US soldiers who've lost the ability to type due to lost limbs or severe hand/arm injuries. They expect to have delivered 850 or more by Christmas. A number of blogs authored by active duty military and vets worked together to raise awareness on the project. Mark Glaser at PBS Mediashift blog says,
It started last year when Army Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss injured both his hands and wanted to get back to blogging. His blog readers pitched in for Dragon Naturally Speaking software, and he and another blogger, FbL, put together Valour-IT and have raised more than $330,000 with two online Veteran's Day fundraisers fueled by milbloggers.Snip from Mark's column -- quote from a laptop-drive organizer, a female blogger who goes by the nym Fuzzybear Lioness (or FbL):
We made our goal [to raise] $24,000 for the 10 days leading up to Veteran's Day [in 2005]. To my utter shock, we raised $100,000. I thought, 'Holy cow, what did I get myself involved in?' The VA [Veterans Affairs] and Military Order of the Purple Heart heard about us and the Undersecretary of the VA invited us to come out to visit one of the trauma units and deliver the laptops there...This year, we raised almost $230,000 in the two weeks leading up to Veteran's Day. We've delivered almost 700 laptops now. I figured this time around, with more media connections, I decided to think big and shoot for $180,000 and we blew right through that to $230,000.How are computers with voice-recognition software helpful for wounded soldiers?
The psychological benefits of the laptops are just huge,” FbL said. “The medical people who work with the wounded soldiers say it has a big effect on their recovery. It’s motivational and keeps them in touch with the other soldiers who are still deployed, and it keeps them in touch with their families who might not be able to visit them. In Chuck’s case, he could do literally nothing for himself. He was a tank company commander in Iraq in charge of about 100 men. He went from that position to being in a hospital bed. It was just devastating for someone who was the big bad guy [in charge]. Now he could sit in his bed and talk to the laptop and do anything anyone else could do on a computerLink to Mark's PBS column, "Valour-IT, Milblogs Give Hundreds of Laptops to Wounded Soldiers." Image: Cox & Forkum cartoon, lifted from Blackfive.net, a milblog that participated in the Valour-IT project.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.