MADISON, Wis. — Once a week, children listen to story told by a voice they’ve likely never heard before.
Teresa Vodak has cerebral palsy and speaks through a Dynavox, a sound-generating machine. She can program what she likes, and it senses her eye movements to know the words she wants to say.
She said she loves being around kids. Once a week, through the Goodwill Supported Employment, she volunteers at the Madison Children’s Museum to read books out loud.
Some days, it can be hard to compete for toddlers’ attention. Others, they’re glued to Vodak and the stories she reads.
“Because of the way the machine works, it makes some really interesting sounds, which is really engaging for kids,” said Heather Davis, the early learning manager at the museum.
Researchers are currently studying whether text-voice programs can help students with learning disabilities. But for now, the more voices children are exposed to, the higher the chance of reading comprehension in the future.
“Children are able to see all the different ways in which people can read books,” Davis said. “It’s a different way to experience literacy.”
Even if kids are busy playing, hearing and seeing Vodak in the background can help build an understanding of reading, and of people.
To find the next Tales with Teresa at the Madison Children’s Museum, visit the museum website.