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Re: Hardware/software for paralysed people?

From: Sailesh Panchang <sailesh.panchang@deque.com>
Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 12:32:06 -0400
Message-ID: <005501c5557d$cdfd9c30$9e01a8c0@deque.local>
To: "Myhill, Carl S \(GE Energy\)" <carl.myhill@ps.ge.com>, "WAI Interest Group" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>


Look for
- environmental controll units / devices for  people with disabilities- some
of these can be integrated to work from a computer
- Dynavox is a company that makes speech systems that helps people with
voice disabilities
- of course eye gaze / eye tracking devices  might prove to be indispensable

Here is an account of one individual reproduced from  March 2005 issue of
e-Access Bulletin. The subscription details follow. In her case she could
Write to me off list to spanchang02@hotmail.com  and I'll see if I can dig
up more.
Also tap the RESNA list (www.resna.org)
+12: Rising to the Challenge of Life
by Stephanie Read.

Technology has been a great help to me and has been the reason why I
have managed to complete my education, which is no mean feat
considering my life events.

When I was three months old my parents were told I was partially
sighted. My sight stayed steady until the age of 12 when a problem
with my macula meant that I lost my sight completely. This upset me,
but I was at a school for the visually impaired so mobility and Braille
training was soon in place.

I was very active and took part in swimming and athletic competitions,
running and swimming in the B1 category. My favourite activity was
riding. However, this came to an abrupt end when at the age of 14 I
started to get spine and hip problems. I was told I was "putting it on"
and to pull myself together. As the years went on my physical
disability increased but nobody had the answer to what was wrong.

Despite my disabilities, I continued my education, going on to achieve
eight GCSEs, three 'A' levels and one 'AS' level and in October 2000,
started a psychology degree.

But in February 2001 things got even worse after I lost all sensation
and movement below my waist. I spent three-and-a-half months in
hospital but still no one knew what was wrong. When I came out of
hospital I wanted to continue my degree and although I was told I
would have to retake the first year again, I started the first year for the
second time and passed all 12 modules.

At the same time things seemed to be getting worse - I was starting to
have problems with my hands which meant that typing became a
problem, so I ended up in hospital again having more tests. The doctors
at Kings College hospital withdrew my drugs, leaving me in agony and
unable to get out of bed, so we spent the next 18 months trying to get
my drug regime reinstated.

But I was not going to let my disability win. During this time I was
trying to carry on with my degree but because of my health, however
hard I tried I didn't manage to pass all the second-year degree modules.
Finally I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a rare
condition that affects about one in 10 million.

This diagnosis meant so much: it gave me the courage to carry on
fighting. In September this year my medication was reinstated and a
new computer was bought for me, so that I could continue with my
university degree. In October 2004 I restarted my second year and plan
to finish my degree in Summer 2006.

I have been using laptops and desktop computers for a long time, with
the JAWS for Windows screen reader. In the last two months I have
received my new laptop, with JAWS plus the speech recognition
software J-Say, which means I can now just dictate documents and
JAWS will read back what the computer has written.

The internet is also very important to me as lecturers and my enablers
can email things to me when I'm not well enough to physically get to
university. It also opens up a huge world of information that can be
used to complete assignments.

For me the most interesting piece of technology I have got is the
Possum (http://www.possum.co.uk). This is a computer that can
operate almost everything within my bungalow, from the television
and hi-fi to the phone and windows and doors. This gives me back my
independence and means that the bungalow is secure. Before owning
this piece of equipment, my front door had to be left open all day, so
that carers and friends could get in. The Possum means that I can be in
bed and still manage to open the front door for visitors.

Many people have said they don't know how I do it and that I could
live my life on benefits. I disagree - because my body doesn't work it
doesn't mean that I should spend my life relying on the state. I want to
give just like everybody else.

I hope to train to become a clinical psychologist and to help others with
disabilities and mental illness. Disability is not a passport to an easy
life, it is a challenge to fight and win!

[Section Four ends].

++End Notes.

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Editor - Dan Jellinek
Deputy editor - Derek Parkinson
Senior reporter - Mel Poluck
Technician - Nick Apostolidis
Editorial advisor - Kevin Carey.

ISSN 1476-6337 .

[Issue ends.]
Sailesh Panchang
Senior Accessibility Engineer,
Deque Systems (www.deque.com)
11180 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite # 400,
Reston, Virginia 20191 (U.S.A.)
Tel 703-225-0380 ext 105
E-mail: sailesh.panchang@deque.com

might be pointers

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Myhill, Carl S (GE Energy)" <carl.myhill@ps.ge.com>
To: "WAI Interest Group" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 10:26 AM
Subject: Hardware/software for paralysed people?

> Hi All,
> Apologies if this is a bit off topic.
> Does anyone know the state of the art software/hardware to help paralysed
> people communicate? I'm looking into this for a friend whose relative has
> recently suffered paralysis from the neck down, including loss of speech
> facial movements and some eye movements are possible.
> I'm quite ignorant of the state of the art - anyone an expert on this?
> What's out there?
> - eye tracking stuff? What's the best?
> - mouse movement from neural activity?
> - can anything work from other facial movements?
> Thanks for your help in advance.
> Carl
Received on Tuesday, 10 May 2005 16:25:24 UTC

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