JOsé Afonso Braga, 47, in 2013 was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 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 applications for people with speech disorders, but most of the options available on the market were limited to English, contained permanent dictionaries and confusing interfaces. 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.
The conversation with the reporter took place exclusively through the eye movements of the interlocutor, which are fixed on the keys of the computer screen, to the wording, later transformed into sound. Despite all the restrictions, he says he is doing well, especially with regard to the qualified care he receives and the full support of his family and friends.
The official launch of the "WeCanSpeak" program took place on the last day of 3. Over 300 downloads were downloaded in less than ten days. The tool can be used on computers and tablets and is available free of charge. The paid version is offered to "more demanding users" because it ranks itself.
The basic assumptions set for the development of 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 (the user does not have to execute several 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 the ability to socialize is probably the greatest pain caused by the disease. "– He said.
Asked about his relationship with the disease, he says he easily accepts the challenges imposed by life. At the end of a quiet conversation, with the sound of equipment that guarantees the mechanical breathing of Zé in the background, the sentence ends the interview, almost like a lesson in life:From the first moment I am determined not to let the illness take away the joy of life. And we get it. "
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