Electronic Devices: Providing a Voice
Solutions for People Needing Assistance
Dr. Stephen Hawking is renowned for his contributions to physics, his best-selling books, and his computer-generated voice. Hawking is almost completely paralyzed by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurological disease also known as Lou Gherig's disease. Although paralysis prevents Hawking from using his voice, he is able to speak through an electronic device that allows him to write and use computer-generated speech by twitching his cheek.
Known as computer-generated speech or augmentative and alternative communication devices, these electronic devices are becoming an increasingly common way for people to communicate when they are unable to move or speak because of severe paralysis. In addition to ALS, people may become unable to speak or move because of paralysis from spinal cord injuries, stroke, brain injuries, and other conditions. People with locked-in syndrome, for example, may have complete paralysis except the ability to move their eyes. Despite this, they can operate these devices, allowing them to communicate.
The Power of Speech Devices
For people with these severe forms of paralysis, a lack of speech can be emotionally devastating. Alternative and augmentative devices allow people to express themselves and to have two-way conversations with caregivers, their loved ones, and others.
Assistive technology can help people with varied communication limitations. People with the most severe impairments may be able to speak by using their eyes or another facial feature by directing a device. Devices may be designed only to speak or they may connect to a computer that allows a user to have computer and internet access.
An eye-tracking device, for example, may track eye movement for operating a desktop or laptop computer. The device replaces a keyboard and mouse by allowing the user to run the computer using only the eyes. Other programs can work with an eye-tracking device to convert text or symbols into speech. One option has more than 11,000 pre-programmed symbols and photos that can be used to create additional symbols.
People who cannot speak but have more movement may be able to use their hands to use text-to-voice software. The mouth may also be used to control a computer.
New Technology May Make Speaking Easier
As technology develops, communication may become even easier for people who are unable to speak because of severe paralysis. Last year, news reports revealed that Hawking was undergoing experiments with a California-based company that is working to allow people who are unable to speak to communicate merely by thinking.
Hawking wore a black headband with a small device attached, called the iBrain, which picks up waves of electrical brain signals that change with varied activities and thoughts. The waves are interpreted with an algorithm. Researchers wanted to see whether the physicist could use his mind to create a repeatable pattern that a computer could translate into a word or a command.
The potential for the device was encouraging when reported last year. In a statement at the time, Hawking said he was participating because he wanted to encourage investment in this research and to offer hope for people in his situation.
Get Help from an Attorney Today
While the science of these devices is incredible, there is no denying that they can be expensive. If your loved one is unable to speak or move because of an accident, an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney from Biren Law Group can assess your case and help you determine the best path towards securing fair and just compensation, including compensation for the costs of an assisted speech device and other aids.
Getting in a car crash is a nightmare. Drew and his team were helpful, honest, transparent, supportive, and on my side every step of the way. I can't emphasize enough how much of a difference they made.- Ramsay B.
Biren Law will do whatever it takes to help secure a favorable outcome on your case. Andrew frequently went above and beyond to not only help me understand the ins and outs of my case, but also to make sure we were making the right decisions.- Gregory W.
They have all been very professional, helpful, kind, and supportive. Andrew has been absolutely wonderful from the very start. He always keeps me up to date on the goings on of the case and always responds quickly when I have any questions.- Janine M.
Very professional environment, kept me informed on every detail, i never felt left in the dark. I am a combat vet and they were able to incorporate my veteran status into the case. I highly recommend using Biren Law group.- Josh H.
The case ended being more difficult than anticipated, and I have to say, Andrew's handling of the case was truly remarkable. He was energetic, driven and handled our case with conviction. He and Biren's team in general were very helpful and quick to answer- Jean-Marie B.
My attorney was very patient, attentive, and thorough in addressing all of my concerns. Spencer explained the process in great detail and answered many questions I had. Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, my attorney continued to work diligently on my case a- Olesya M.
$100,000,000 Premises Liability Verdict
$12,000,000 Bad Faith Verdict
$4,300,000 Car Accident Verdict
$4,300,000 Wrongful Death Verdict
$4,000,000 Workplace Injury Settlement
$3,500,000 Motorcycle Accident Verdict