U-M software class aims to help teen with cerebral palsy

Grace Simon of Westphalia was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at six months old. She doesn’t have the muscle control to speak, sign or walk. But her capable mind understands spoken language. She reads books. Her favorite subject is math.

To signal “yes,” Grace 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.

This semester, 73 U-M undergraduates in a senior-level software engineering course will devise systems that could make it easier for Grace to communicate, play or act more independently. Teams of undergrads will design and work on 15-20 Grace-centric projects that may enable her to play a board game with friends, to make her own art or to share her thoughts in writing or perhaps even (electronically) spoken words.

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