Afonso Braga, 47, was diagnosed with amyotrophic peripheral sclerosis (ALS) in 2013. The disease attacks the central nervous system and causes increasing and irreparable motor palsy. Already in the first year after confirmation and diagnosis, Ze, as he prefers to be called, has also lost all body movements and voice.
He even tried speech targeting apps, but most of the options on the market were limited to English, fixed dictionaries, and confusing interface. With training in information technology, the miners, a father of three children, took a kind of battle against time to develop another way of communication. That's when WeCanSpeak came along.
The conversation occurred with the correspondent solely and exclusively by the interviewee's eye movements, which are installed on computer screen keys up to word formation, and later converted into audio extracts. Despite all the restrictions, he says that he is good, especially because of the skilled care he receives and the full help of family and friends.
WeCanSpeak's official launch was held on the last day. In less than ten days, more than 300 download. The tool can be used on computers a tablets and is available for free. A paid version is offered to "more difficult users," as Ze himself distributes.
The basic buildings set for the development of applications included: to be general; it can be configured (the user can create its own dictionary with complete words and expressions that are appropriate to everyday life); be simple, practical and intuitive (the user does not need to go through a number of commands to speak a simple phrase); and be accessible (people with all kinds of purchasing power can access the tool).
The app even allows her to have friends at home on Thursday for a poker game. Gambling, according to his wife, is still early in the morning. "Communication is the basis of socializing and that loss to socialize is the biggest pain caused by the disease," he said.