The Sound of Love
No disability can silence two people's attraction, especially when they get a little technological help.
Justin Birch and Tasha Shoffner drive to Justin's physical therapy and to her nephew's baseball games.
Today’s long-distance couples can stay close in unprecedented ways, thanks to a host of technologies. Yet, it’s still the two people – not the newest convenience – who set the pace of a relationship.
Ask Justin Birch and Tasha Shoffner, who met in the summer of 2007 at a business meeting far from their respective homes in Florida and Texas. They started dating two years later. Tasha’s sister, Keri Crosby, first heard of Birch around Valentine’s Day 2010, when he sent Tasha a dozen roses.
On New Year’s Eve 2011, Birch popped the question, “Tasha Deanne Shoffner, will you marry me?” at the Crosby home in Katy, Texas. It capped his delivery of a proposal composed from the heart and programmed into his augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device, bringing happy tears from a roomful of friends and relatives whose rowdy cheers escalated when Shoffner accepted.
A Practical Choice
The couple finds technology more necessary than convenient.
Birch, 37, has used an AAC device since he lost his ability to speak because of a brain aneurysm he experienced ten years ago. He walks with a cane, uses a wheelchair for long distances or when fatigued, and no longer drives. But his endearing wit hasn’t changed.
The lifelong physical disabilities associated with Shoffner’s cerebral palsy are milder, and her speech challenges more profound. Yet she has always been goal-oriented and independent. The oldest child, her younger sisters describe her as nurturing.
As a 20-something college student faced with preparing a series of mandatory oral presentations for her social work degree, Shoffner decided to try an AAC device for communication with unfamiliar listeners. Who knew her practical choice would become a link to the love of her life?
The Sound of Love
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