A CEREBRAL Palsy sufferer is fighting for the right to communicate.
Mark Williams of Hightown has suffered from the condition since he was four. Since then he has been unable to communicate verbally and has relied on the use of a bliss board - a plastic communication chart with words, letters and numbers in boxes which he points at to communicate.
The charts need renewing every two or three months after wear and tear at a cost of around £5, but after five years Wrexham Maelor has decided to stop providing them.
The hospital says that it provided the bliss boards as a goodwill gesture following a referral from Mr Williams' GP. As they did not class Mr Williams as a patient they could no longer justify the expenditure.
'I think it is terrible,' said Mark's wife of 13 years, Rosemary. 'These boards give him independence.
'I have heart problems and asthma and cannot get out a lot to do shopping. Because of that Mark does the shopping on his own. He takes his board and tells shopkeepers what he wants. He can only be out for an hour because he has particular needs he has to come home for, but everyone in the town knows him from his travels.
'Despite his severe disability he is very intelligent and very capable, but without these folding plastic boards he is unable to communicate at all. to be honest, he looks after me as much as I look after him, we each do the things the other one can't.
'The hospital wanted him to have a speech machine, like Stephen Hawking, but it is impractical for him because his condition means he moves around a lot and would be constantly knocking it to the floor and breaking it or hurting himself on it.'
Mark himself said bliss boards were his only answer.
'The hospital would love me to say yes to a speech machine,' he said using the bliss board that needs replacing. 'But I have to say no.'
The hospital has sent correspondence to the couple claiming bliss boards are no longer made, but they enlisted the help of elderly and disabled rights campaigner Ken Mack, who found a bliss board supplier.
'They still make them, they are cheap, surely the health service should provide them,' said Rosemary.
Wrexham Maelor Hospital spokesman Andy Scotson explained the decision to stop providing the bliss boards.
'Firstly Mr Williams is not registered as a patient in our speech and language therapy department,' he said.
'This may be because he was a patient at one time but that his period of treatment and/or assessment was completed.
'However, whether he was a patient or not the bliss boards were provided by this hospital as a gesture of goodwill for a time.
'It may be the case that another agency has such funding but this hospital definitely doesn't. If Mr Williams is referred to our speech and language therapy department by his GP he will then become a patient but bliss boards would still not be provided by us.'