THE POWER OF COMMUNICATION:
Many of us take the luxury of communication for granted. At least, I know I do.
Every day, I am on the phone with some and using email and text to quickly connect with others. Sure, sometimes I complain because those calls are from solicitors who interrupt my day or because I am stuck on hold for way too long. But the basic acts of communication are conducted automatically, quickly and typically without having to think too much about getting my words out.
And those actions do not include the immediate face-to-face exchanges with family, friends, co-workers and even strangers that enhance day-to-day living. Just think of your typical day. Do any of these possible communications sound familiar?
When the alarm goes off, do you say, “Good morning”?
Or do you throw the alarm, screaming, “Shut up!”?
Maybe you Whisper, “I love you.”
Ask, “Ya want some coffee?”
Complain, “I don’t want to go to work!”
Do you sing along with the oldies on your way to work?
Remind your spouse, “Remember to call Grandma today.”
Command your dog to “Come! Come, now! Get over here!”
Wish someone, “Happy Birthday!
Introduce yourself to a new client or customer.
Grumble, “My boss does not understand me.”
Order, “One pizza to go, please.”
Mumble, “Thank you” when someone holds the door open for you.
Tell someone a joke–and then laugh at your own punchline.
Commiserate with a friend over problems at home.
Congratulate someone for a job well done!
Voice personal gratitude and appreciation.
Yell—maybe even swear—at some crazy driver cutting you off.
Announce, “Honey, I’m home!”
Yell and Cheer at a sporting event so much that you go hoarse.
Chat over dinner about the day’s events or tomorrow’s plans.
Fuss with loved ones about what TV shows to watch.
Wish each other, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
Now imagine that such everyday communication is not a possibility for you, or at least not an easy automatic option. I do not mean that you have laryngitis and cannot talk for a couple of days. I mean you are one of the many who have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease, are tetraplegic, or who have any other disability affecting communication abilities such as locked in syndrome (LIS), muscular dystrophy (MD), spinal cord injuries (SCI), and some cases of traumatic brain injuries. Some technologies are available to help, but the setup and calibration to get the technologies to work effectively are always a challenge.
I know one person who lives with ALS: Ismail Tsieprati. He is an intelligent, creative, and thoughtful man who faces physical challenges to be able to communicate effectively. I can only imagine the time, energy, focus, patience, and concentration it takes for him to just get his words out. He and wife Cheryl are continually on the lookout for the best new technologies that can better help Ismail and others with ALS and other disorders communicate more readily.
In her blog post “The Miracle of Communication,” Cheryl mentions a new promising technology that is being developed. But she begins her post with an explanation about the potential consequence when the physical aspects of communication become an impossibility: “The greatest fear for people living with ALS is that there will come a day when they become ‘locked in’ – so completely paralyzed in the late stages of the disease that even the simplest of muscle movements have been stolen from them. Hopelessly trapped inside their bodies, they would be unable to communicate in any way with the outside world and would survive in complete isolation.”
THE PROMISE OF COMMUNICATION:
Fortunately, as Cheryl also mentions, a new technology is emerging that offers the promise of making communication easier for those with ALS and other disorders. This emerging technology is called EyeSpeak by LusoVU-USA. This invention puts the newest technologies into a pair of glasses allowing the wearer’s eye movements to generate spoken word fairly quickly in almost any situation without having to re-calibrate over and over again, just to keep the technology working.
To get the prototype of this new technology out there to the people who need them—as quickly as possible—the project needs some initial funding. Kickstarter is taking donations for this worthwhile project. The goal is to collect $115,000 by Wednesday, 16 July 2014. The donation process is easy and accepts donations as little as $1. Thus far, 148 backers have pledged over $70,000—that’s almost half of what is needed. There are 12 days left for the remaining dollars to be pledged.
The following video introduces EyeSpeak and its creator as well as his personal reason for developing this marvelous new communication opportunity. Once you have seen the wondrous potential of EyeSpeak, I hope you will consider making a donation. But at the very least, please share the information presented with others. Getting the word out is part of the promise and power of communication!
A WORD ABOUT KICKSTARTER: I have heard minimally about such group fundraising sites as Kickstarter on the news, but I had not looked into them at all. [I’m never crazy about change!] I was impressed to hear that $2 million had been raised in about 12 hours by fans of the television show Veronica Mars so that a follow-up reunion movie could be made. I liked Veronica Mars so am pleased that movie is being made. But the fundraising outcome is what was phenomenal. In total, 91,000 donors generated $5.7 million for this movie project. That’s an average of only $63 a person.
These fundraising sites are great, pooling the power of individuals into supporting a group project. If enough people give a little bit—maybe comparable to a movie rental or a Starbucks coffee—then enough money can be generated for important projects. EyeSpeak only needs a total of $115,000 to make developing an actual working prototype a reality sooner rather than later. I was impressed with how easy it was to pledge a donation. If the total needed of $115,000 is not promised, my pledge will not be processed. It feels like a win-win to me.
Thanks for sharing this communication, this request for funding of a terrific emerging technology. If enough people donate, then the promise of communication can become an easier reality for many.
Now, that’s powerful!