Reaves has Parkinson's, and after two neurosurgeries, has mostly lost the use of his voice. Brain works -- well, as much as it ever did -- but his speech has been greatly impaired. With the iPad, he can type in sentences, and the thing will then translate them into speech. Not perfectly -- the way these things work involves splicing together sounds based on spelling, but for the most part, the speech is understandable, and where correct spelling might not give a useful sound, phonetic spelling can sometimes. And one can store a collection of stock phrases, just like the kids do for texting and click on them. Introductions, common questions or responses.
At five or six hundred bucks, this isn't the cheapest solution for this alone, but you do get the book and newspaper and magazine readers and movie viewer and all those other neat iPhone and iPod applications, too.