By grade seven, I had designed and developed a system which printed the English meanings when a sequence of Blissymbols was touched. I made a Bliss board overlay to fit onto a touch-sensitive board and programmed my home computer, an Atari 8OOXL, to respond such that the meaning of the symbols appeared on the computer screen. After the message was composed and edited, a small plotter could print the message on paper. My system was inexpensive and uncomplicated. Bliss users did not have to learn any new physical or mental skills in order to use it. I entered the project in my grade seven science fair.
I was honoured when the project was chosen as one of ten that year to go on to the city-wide science fair. At the London District Science and Technology Fair, my project received a first place in the computing category and was chosen as one of five projects in the city to compete nationally. My project was also awarded the IBM Regional Junior Computing Technology A ward.
At the age of twelve, I was the youngest person from London at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. The opportunity to meet the 300 participants from all across the country was one of the best aspects of the week, not to mention guest speakers such as Steve McLean, one of Canada's astronauts, who encouraged us to pursue our interests in science and technology.
At the Canada-Wide Science Fair, my Bliss project received a silver medal and an IBM National Computing Technology Award. Three months after the science fair, I received a letter from the Youth Science Foundation in Ottawa, saying that my project had been chosen to represent Canada at the World Exhibition of Achievements of Young Inventors in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. I was surprised that my project was receiving international recognition.
While I was in Bulgaria, I was interviewed by Farag Moussa from the World Intellectual Property Organization, a United Nations organization which oversees international patents and copyrights, and he included a chapter about me and my work in his book about women inventors, published in Geneva. When I returned to Canada, the Blissymbolics Communication Institute (BCD) invited me to present my invention to professionals in the field of Bliss.
Shirlly McNaughton, the director of BCI was very encouraging and helped me by providing books and by giving me a tour of their facilities. I was only thirteen when I visited BCI and I really appreciated being taken seriously and treated as a peer. Shelly Beauchamp of The Women Inventors' Project in Waterloo, Ontario, heard about my work and invited me to be a member of their organization. I have had an opportunity to participate in several of their conferences and workshops. The Youth Science Foundation invited me to display my invention at the Canadian High Technology Show in Toronto. I participated in the Inventors' Forum at a medical technology conference in London, Ontario.