In 1981, three computer engineer professors at UMass Dartmouth began coming up with ways to adapt computers to help people who could not speak to communicate.

The work of Les Corey, Philip Viall, and Richard Walder led to the establishment of the SHARE Foundation (Society for Human Advancement Through Rehabilitation Engineering).

Professors Corey and Walder are now deceased, but Viall is continuing the work of the foundation, some 40 years later. Viall joined Townsquare Sunday this week to discuss the foundation and two upcoming fundraisers in September.

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"We've gone from computers taking up an entire tabletop to iPads that have thousands of times more capability and speak in a naturally sounding voice," Viall said. "It's been an amazing field to be in over the last 40 years."

The SHARE Foundation started at UMass Dartmouth and is now located at the DeMello Center in downtown New Bedford.

Viall said SHARE has worked with about 4,000 people over the years, but the pieces of equipment they've adapted is probably much higher than that. Their first client, for example, is on her fifth or sixth computer system.

"SHARE has survived thanks to grass-roots donations," Viall said. "We stay with a person, literally throughout their life, and as the person's need change, we try to adapt the technology to their needs."

You can help SHARE continue its important work by joining two local fundraising efforts. The first is Saturday, September 17, a Fun Walk starting from the Westport Point United Methodist Church at 1912 Main Street. Registration is at 9 a.m., and the walk starts at 10. You can visit thesharefoundation.org to register.

The second event is Sunday, September 18, an Antique and Classic Car Show at the Freetown Historical Society, located at 1 Slab Bridge Road in Assonet. Admission is free, and donations are welcomed.

The complete interview with the SHARE Foundation's Philip Viall can be heard here:

Townsquare Sunday is a weekly public affairs program heard Sunday mornings at 6 a.m. on 1420 AM and 99.5 FM.

The program highlights individuals and organizations seeking to improve the quality of life in New Bedford and surrounding communities.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at jim.phillips@townsquaremedia.com.

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