Lee Merlich's speech
It's a pleasure to be with you today I enjoy the same types of actuivities you probably do like spending time outseide every day.
I was born with Cerebral palsy a disability that limited my physical movements and speech skils. when I was 5 years old I had an accident that caused me to lose most of the rest of my speech and motor skills my mother became my mouth, because I had no speech while I was growing up I went to special school for children with disabilities. Today students with disabilities attend community school alongside their peers God is an important force in my life When I was 17 I pushed my wheelchair towards the altar my mother looked on in astonishment she had no idea why I was doing this. I did it because I felt god’s love and calling.
The congregation watched on and offered their love and support to me I am now a minister at my church, the Zionville Christian church I have earned the title of reverend, through my work there.
When I was 22 years old my family moved to Florida and my mother began searching for a facility that would help me. She found such a place and spent much time there as a volunteer to help me with my Physical needs and to speak for me.
One day a magazine with an advertisement for Bliss symbols, a symbol system for those unable to speak, was left in our mailbox. No one knew where this magazine came from but I knew it was a gift from God. My mother students and some professors from Florida State University put together a book with over 500 Bliss symbols.
At the age of 22 I finally had a way to communicate. Bliss symbols are idea graphs and pictures used to represent words and parts of speech. My Bliss symbol notebook enables me to point to symbols and have words printed. I still use my Board, I still use it quite a bit today I also use this voice output device called a liberator.
Has voice output lets me talk on the phone as well as talking to individuals Allows me to talk to individuals or groups. I do this by recalling words, phrases or speeches.
This device has close to 4000 words so you can understand why it sometimes takes me a while to formulate my thoughts. I move to Indianapolis about 20 years ago and I entered New Hope a residential facility for people with disabilities. Myu faith in god continued to grow and in 1990 I Attended a convention there I experienced the call to bring the message of god to others, who use Bliss symbols. After an examination by ministers, I was accepted as a lay minister. My life is dedicated to teaching others learn the good news about Jesus Christ. to do this I am the chairman for of the religious bliss symbols for others to use.
In the USA this means learning about theology with the help of my church ministers. I identify a word that is currently represented in bliss symbols and have other read the definition from a dictionary. I study the many meanings of the word and the many meaning churches and peoples believe the word represents I identify a word that isn't currently in blissymbols, I choose a word that will make the meaning clear to those who use Bliss symbols.
The new symbols have to be agreed upon by many churches Bliss Symbol communication Internation, the organization dedicated to promoting the language, which is based in Canada publishes the new symbols in it’s magazine. They forward any letters they receive with comments regarding the symbols I have created. To me for my review. Once accepted by the bliss symbol organization. the new religious symbols are published in a dictionary in a dictionary for all those who use these symbols to study and learn. 5 years ago I moved from institutional living to a house with 2 roommates.
Where I feel more in touch with the community. I have recently had the opportunity to travel to places such as Ireland Washington and Toronto. I continue to write about my life my relationship with god and his relationship with people like myself who have disabilities. I hope to reach those whose lives have been enriched by bliss symbols, just as mine has. thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. God bless you all.