Fran is a Be Extraordinary client whose goal was to text with her grandchildren. Fran is 85 years old and had a stroke 40 years ago. She cannot speak or move her limbs but she has good head control and used a mouth-stick to point at letters on a piece of paper to communicate. Fran’s eyesight makes it difficult for her to use a standard keyboard or accurately control and place the mouse cursor -- and obviously she has not used computers before!
Our first system consisted of an Android tablet connected to the InvoTek Safe-Laser System. Fran used two apps. LaserChat Pro enabled Fran to type and speak messages and Text Now sent and received text messages. It turned out that this system was too complicated for Fran and her caregivers to use regularly. There were also issues outside of the technology that made texting problematic.
We regrouped and created a second system that enables Fran to write letters to her family using a Windows Surface Pro and a printer. Ethan installed Open Office and found an app (autoHotKeys) that enabled him to simplify computer tasks by writing scripts that Fran can activate with her laser pointer. He created scripts to simplify the process of erasing text, undoing text deletion, opening files, printing on a wireless printer, and opening other apps. Each function is activated by a key on the laser-activated keyboard. He also found and installed an easy-to-use text-to-speech app (Balabolka).
The resulting system (photo below) is very easy for Fran to use and greatly reduces her frustration as she learns to write letters to her family!