Saturday , June 12 2021

The Brazilian from ELA creates an application for people with speech disorders

José Afonso Braga, 47 years old, in 2013. Atrophy lateral sclerosis (ALS) was diagnosed. The disease attacks the central nervous system and causes progressive and irreversible motor paralysis. Already in the first year after confirming the diagnosis, Zé, as he prefers to call, lost all body movements as well as the voice.

He even tried speech-to-speech applications, but most of the options available on the market were limited to English, fixed dictionaries and confusing interface. Thanks to the information technology training, the miner, father of three children, drew a kind of struggle against time to develop an alternative way of communicating. Then WeCanSpeak came.

Interview with privacy policy was founded in the living room of the house of Zé, in a condominium on the South Lake under the watchful eye of his wife, Valéria Braga. A few minutes before the conversation began, as the reporter prepared, he joked: "Put on this camera a Tom Cruise filter (American actor). For me to look good."

The chat with the reporter occurred only in the eye movements of the interlocutor, which are fixed on the keys of the computer screen, until words are formed, later transformed into sound. Despite all the restrictions, he says that he is doing well, especially because of the qualified care he receives and the full support of his family and friends.

The official launch of WeCanSpeak took place on the last day, in less than ten days – over 300 Files to download. This tool can be used on computers and tablets and is available free of charge. The paid version is offered to "more demanding users", as Ze itself classifies.

The basic premises for developing the application were: to be universal; be configurable (the user can create his own dictionary with full words and phrases appropriate to his daily life); be simple, practical and intuitive (you do not have to go through a few commands to say a simple expression); and be available (access to the tool can be obtained by people with all purchasing power).

The application even allows you to take friends at home on Thursdays for a game of poker. Gambling, according to his wife, is still early in the morning. "Communication is the basis of socialization, and the loss of ability to socialize is probably the greatest pain caused by the disease," he said.

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