At the age of 21 years old, Barbara Fernandes, a young Brazilian woman, the daughter of an honorable truck driver and the first in her family to attend college, arrives in the Unites States on her own with very limited English skills. In a matter of three years she finishes undergraduate coursework at Temple University, learns two additional languages: Spanish and English, graduates the second in her class, and receives a scholarship to persue her master’s degree at Texas Christian University. At the age of 27, Barbara founds a company called Smarty Ears, with funds from her first job as a speech pathologist helping children with speech impairments at Irving Independent School District. Barbara’s dedication for helping children is the driving force behind Smarty Ears. She saw that while she was helping 50 children by working in a school district, she could help millions by amplifying her knowledge and empowering therapists and parents.
Smarty Ears, a three-year-old company, has created nearly 50 applications for mobile devices that has changed the lives of children with disabilities and their parents. The applications developed by Barbara Fernandes, have helped children and adults with a variety of speech delays such as Autism, Stuttering, Down Syndrome and other specific disabilities. Smarty Ears counts today as one of the most successful educational company creating mobile technologies with nearly all apps being best sellers educational applications on iTunes. Barbara did not create just a company, she created a whole new culture of using technology in the schools for helping children with disability. It is due to her entrepreneurism that today, many other companies have been created with the same goal in mind: to help create the tools that are much needed in education.
Barbara’s innovations don’t stop on creating a fast rising and extremely successful company. Barbara Fernandes has become a celebrity among speech pathologists and parents of children with disabilities. Barbara, also known as “GeekSLP”, created a blog and video podcast that empower parents to teach children skills by using various technology tools found in everyday life, and by teaching other therapists to draw children’s attention and interest in technology to teach. As GeekSLP, Barbara has presented in all corners of the United States and even at international presentations as a guest speaker. (See www.geekslp.com )
Barbara’s accomplishments don’t stop here. In 2010, Barbara Fernandes created a symbol-set called “Smarty Symbols”( www.smartysymbols.com) . While most of us are able to use words to communicate, some children and adults aren’t capable of verbal communication. Barbara created a set of twelve thousand symbols, which are images that represent something anyone would want to communicate. Smarty Symbols have been licensed to app developers, computer programmers, and companies wishing to create solutions for those who need images to communicate.
All in one, Barbara, today 29 years old, has overcome lots of barriers as a woman, foreigner, young, and second language learner; all of which have helped and empowered her to be an inspiration to many other young women.