"To Improve the Quality of Life for People with Disabilities through the Creative Application of Modern Technology"
The Society for Human Advancement Through Rehabilitation Engineering Foundation, Inc. (aka The SHARE Foundation) was established in 1981, when Lester W. Cory, a professor of Electrical and Engineering at UMASS Dartmouth read a newspaper article about a young woman, named Linda Texceira, who had Cerebral Palsy, . The article explained that the only way Linda could communicate was by shifting her eye gaze to select letters on a Plexiglas board (designed by her father) held up by others. Determined to find another way to help Linda communicate, Professor Cory enlisted Professor Philip H. Viall, of UMASS Dartmouth, to design an alternate solution. The duo developed a computer system that enabled her to spell, write sentences, and speak for the first time in her life using an electronic voice synthesizer; a long-awaited dream come true for Linda and her parents.
Professors Cory and Viall's success with Linda was highlighted in numerous publications, quickly attracting the attention of local families looking to find "voices" for their loved ones. Because each new client presented varying and unique physical challenges, systems had to be tailor-made. To properly meet their client's customized needs and expand their reach to a wider range of disabilities such as Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS), Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Muscular Dystrophy, the duo recruited additional engineers, students, and volunteers. In 1982, Professor Richard Walder joined the team, and the three men formed a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to begin fundraising.
Early on, most of SHARE’S clients were concentrated in the New England area; however, SHARE eventually extended services to 37 other states and eight countries! SHARE began receiving national attention for its innovation and success in improving lives through assistive technology, equipment, and services. In fact, the three men were honored and recognized with numerous prestigious awards for their dedication and ingenious designs! Notably, Professor Cory received the President’s Volunteer Action Award, Professor Viall earned both a National Jefferson Award for Public Services and the AMVETS Silver Helmet Award, and Professor Richard Walder received the Governor of Massachusetts' Outstanding Service to the Commonwealth Award, among others.
A bridge to communication, SHARE has helped over 3,900 people with physical and verbal disabilities live more independent lives by understanding the specific needs of their clients, and designing services and assistive technology, accordingly. SHARE also continues to pioneer the “Assistive Technology Model” for other organizations to follow, as evidenced from the steady client referrals from their neighboring partners.