A non-verbal special needs student made headlines after his inspiring graduation speech using voice software went viral.
According to KARE 11, 21-year-old Ahmed Ali graduated from the Transition Plus Program of Minneapolis Public Schools, which aims to “provide services to students with educational disabilities and transition needs in post-secondary education.”
Ali, who has cerebral palsy, was chosen to give the commencement speech, even though he is nonverbal.
“He always has a smile on his face and a positive attitude. Two years prior, he helped out with the graduation video. So when it came to having student speakers this year, the graduation committee thought of Ahmed as a great example of what we embody here,” Transitions Plus principal Jason Backes told Yahoo Lifestyle.
“This is helping to break stereotypes about a person with disabilities. And that’s one of the things that Ahmed is excited about. People are seeing that those with disabilities, who are Muslim, or of color can be valued,” he added.
The disabled teen was able to deliver his speech using a voice synthesizer called Accent 1000, Blavityreports.
“First of all, I am very impressed with everything you have done and I am really proud of all of you,” Ali says at the start of his speech. “I can’t wait to see what happens when you get older. You will achieve a lot of amazing things with or without disabilities.”
“I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me a voice I can use. It impacted me to make a difference in my life and the lives of people looking up to me,” he added.
As noted by PEOPLE, it was the first time a voice synthesizer had been used in a graduation speech in the school district.
“It looks like a normal phone keyboard,” Ali told Good Morning America. “I can type my messages on the keyboard and it will speak for me. Unfortunately, I take a few seconds to type my message. Which means that people need to have a little bit of patience with me. Since I got it, each year I’m getting better and better to communicating to people.”
Ali rocked the crowd with his speech, during which he noted his nicknames: “Smiles,” “Hollywood” and “Baby Obama.”
“Each stage of your life, you are passing it to a new you,” he said.
“It’s not the end of the line for you, but it’s a new you in our beautiful world,” Ali added ,dropping an inflatable microphone at the end of his speech.