Let Maya Speak For Herself
  • Petitioned Prentke Romich Company

This petition was delivered to:

Prentke Romich Company
President, Semantic Compaction Systems
Bruce Baker
CEO, Apple
Tim Cook

Let Maya Speak For Herself

    1. Petition by

      Dana Nieder

My daughter Maya is four years old and has a developmental disability that leaves her unable to speak. A few months ago, she began using an iPad app called Speak for Yourself (SfY) to communicate, and since then Maya’s progress has been staggering. She politely makes requests, tapping out “I want cookie please.” She makes jokes, like looking out the window at the bright sunshine and tapping “today rain” and laughing (what can I say, 4 year olds don’t tell the best jokes). And a few days ago she looked at my husband as he walked by and tapped “Daddy, I love you.” Life-changing. Seriously. Thanks to Speak for Yourself, Maya can speak to us, clearly, for the first time in her life. SfY has given this hope to families just like ours all over the country.

But now Maya is poised to become a very real, very human, and very adorable casualty of patent law. The creators of SfY were being sued for patent infringement by Prentke Romich Company (PRC) and Semantic Compaction Systems (SCS), two much larger companies that make designated communication devices (not iPad apps). In response to complaints from PRC and SCS, Apple removed Speak for Yourself from the iTunes Store. It disappeared. It no longer exists. Gone. So now what will happen to Maya’s voice, and the voices of all the others who rely on SfY?

Apple, PRC and SCS should return Speak for Yourself to the App Store immediately, and it should remain there throughout litigation. And PRC and SCS should guarantee that Speak for Yourself's availability to families like mine will not be jeopardized no matter the result of the lawsuit.

At the moment, we still have the app. But we are now shadowed by a huge, impending threat. With the removal of Speak for Yourself from the iTunes store, the SfY team has lost the ability to send out updates or repairs to the people who are currently using the app. At this point, an update from Apple to the iPad's operating system could render SfY useless. Our app could stop working, and Maya would be left unable to speak, and no one would be able to help us.

I don’t understand why Apple decided to remove the app. No court had ordered the removal of the app from the iTunes store. This app is not a game, it’s a necessary, irreplaceable voice for people with disabilities. Why would Apple decide to pull it so arbitrarily?

I also don’t understand how Prentke Romich could think that this was a reasonable or ethical move to make. PRC is a 46 year old company whose entire client population is comprised of children and adults who are unable to speak. Their motto is “We Believe Everyone Deserves A Voice.” How can they reconcile their mission statement with their strategic removal of Speak for Yourself from the market, effectively blocking access to new nonverbal users and potentially causing the app to become inaccessible to the current users who are using it as their only voice?

My daughter cannot speak without this app. She cannot ask us questions. She cannot tell us that she’s tired, or that she wants yogurt for lunch. She cannot tell her daddy that she loves him. No one should have the power to take this away from her.

PRC’s decision to fight for the removal of this app from the iTunes store isn’t just an aggressive move against Speak for Yourself, it’s an attack on my child, the other children using this app, and the children who are ready to begin using this app but now cannot. Please help me tell Apple, PRC, and SCS to ensure that Speak for Yourself remains available in the iTunes Store no matter the outcome of their patent dispute.

For more information, visit http://niederfamily.blogspot.com/2012/06/silencing-of-maya.html

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 5,000 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Lita York SWISHER, IA
      • about 2 years ago

      I have worked with many people with disabilities. I worked with a young, disanled lady who could not speak. She had a talk box, which allowed her to tap words and.phrases so she could speak. The talk box kept breaking, and the company always sent it back sti broke! Without it she could not talk to her friends, could not tell us what she wanted, couldnt tell her grandma she loved her, and her behaviors began more and more. EVERYONE deserves the right to be heard, weather through their voice, a talk box, or an app.

    • keith lundgren BRADFORD, PA
      • about 2 years ago

      my daughter uses app to talk

    • cecily todd LAS VEGAS, NV
      • about 2 years ago

      Let the chains break down, Let the sunshine be released, Those who can't speak for themselves deserve a fight..

    • Angel Bryant OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
      • about 2 years ago

      I saw a special on television recently, I do not remember which program or channel as I do not subscribe to cable and only see television when visiting others, but I was amazed at how effective this application was at providing a voice to those who previously had none, and I'm very saddened to discover that this incredible application has been removed. The joy it brought to the those individuals finally able to communicate their thoughts and emotions, and to their families, was a beautiful thing. I hope this application is restored for the sake of all of these people.

    • R. T. Romero SAN DIEGO, CA
      • about 2 years ago

      Because people will use her disability to fill THEIR own pocket book her whole life.


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