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App helps man 'talk' after 20 years

A man who was left paralysed and brain damaged in a brutal attack said it was "great" to be able to communicate for the first time in 20 years.

Kevin Beverley, 55, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, could only make himself understood through grunts until he discovered an iPad application that "speaks" for him. His first words were: "At last, someone can hear me."

Mr Beverley's family said they are now looking forward to getting to know him properly.

Staff at the Carlton daycare centre in his home town introduced him to the Grid Player application, which allows him to string sentences together by pressing symbols and pictures on his iPad.

"I love it. I think it is good, great," said Mr Beverley. "I can talk. I can play games."

Mr Beverley was left severely injured after an unprovoked attack in Barnsley two decades ago. His life-changing injuries included severe brain damage, broken bones, right side paralysis and he also lost the ability to speak, meaning he could only communicate by making noises and gestures.

Mr Beverley's cousin and carer, Elaine Sexton, said it was "absolutely fantastic" to converse with Mr Beverley again after so long and said the family cannot wait to find out more about him. She said: "It's brilliant. It brings him out of himself and we'll have the chance to get to know him better. He's going to have a better life. It's definitely going to make his quality of life better knowing he can communicate with us."

Workers at the Carlton Centre, which is run by the Disabilities Trust and which Mr Beverley has been visiting for seven months, said he took to the technology the instant they introduced him to it.

Ray Riley, the centre's service manager, said: "Kevin showed immediate interest. Since then we've found out more about Kevin than we have in the past seven months. We're able to communicate with him in a way he's never been able to communicate before."

The Disabilities Trust charity also plans to introduce eye scanners at each of its six Disability Lifestyle Services centres in England. The technology allows disabled users to communicate through a computer which tracks movement in eyes. The trust is currently trying to raise the 90,000 required to buy the life-changing equipment.

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