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University of Connecticut Assistive Technology Oral History Project

Barry Romich, P.E.

Chairman and CEO Prentke Romich Co.
COO, AAC Institute

Date: October 19, 2007

Snippet 1: "Tell us about your earliest years in technology" (5:15)

Snippet 2: "What about the AAC Institute?" (3:08)

Download: Full Transcript

Barry's story begins in 1965 when he was an engineering student at the Case Institute of Technology and worked part time in a medical engineering research program where he met Ed Prentke, a staff engineer. The two started to build things for people, such as simple nurse-calling and appliance- operating devices and to learn about needs from people who came from all over the world to see what was happening at their center.

After graduation, Barry continued to work with Ed and formed Prentke Romich Company in 1966 as an evening and weekend activity, building telephone systems for spinal cord injured people. When the Veterans' Administration ordered 200 systems, they were able to reinvest in other assistive technology areas just as augmentative communication was coming up.

Barry discusses the influence of Bruce Baker, and calls semantic compaction the most significant intellectual property in his field. Barry explains the need for and development of the AAC Institute, a non-profit charitable organization, where he now spends much of his time. His concern for others is also reflected in his Employee Stock Ownership Plan for his hundred employees, funding retirement and reinvesting in future development.