Larry Christy is a 42 year-old man originally from Quincy and now living in New Bedford. He was in a car accident and experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI). He moves around by controlling a wheelchair using head movements. He lost most of his ability to move his legs and arms, and can no longer speak clearly. When he does speak, it is very slow and requires a lot of energy from him. He typically communicates by having support staff members interpret messages that he types by pointing at letters on a printed keyboard. This approach is also slow and does not give Larry privacy in his communication.
Our goal was to build Larry a communication system that lets him communicate more effectively without the help of a support staff member. We built an adjustable keyboard and monitor tray that attaches to his wheelchair. The tray can be raised or lowered, and the mounting arm swings out of the way to let him in and out of the wheelchair. Larry types on a special computer keyboard with large keys that connects to a personal computer. The keyboard is attached to the tray by velcro.
This project is complete! Larry is using the communication system regularly to talk to his family, friends and support staff members. He loves using it and finds it to be very convenient.
Larry would be interested in having the output from the keyboard be directly connected to other programs, like an email client or Skype, to make communicating even easier. He wonders if it would be even better if the monitor could be mounted on a wall so he wouldn’t have to move around with it attached to his wheelchair.