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Don's Voice - Accessible Tech to Help People with ALS Communicate Independently

Don’s Voice is a heart-warming look at the true story of Don and Lorraine Moir, a farm family debilitated by ALS. Don and Lorraine married in 1989. Six years and three children later, Don was diagnosed with ALS. Week by week, Don lost more of his motor-neurological functions. Then on May 21, 1999, Don Moir was fitted with a ventilator. He hasn’t spoken since.

Don communicates via a letter board: a simple sheet of paper with the alphabet divided into quadrants. Letter-by-letter, word-by-word, the disease has forced Don to communicate silently through others for over a decade.

Supported by HP, the Not Impossible team was led by volunteer Javed Gangjee and worked with the SpeakYourMind Foundation to develop a simple interface that replicated Don’s paper letter board. Don was now able to access a new world of technology and communication for the first time since being diagnosed.

Through this simple technology, Don independently wrote a love letter to his wife and was able to use the technology to audibly say “I Love You, Lorraine” for the first time in 15 years.

The project was executive produced by the NoA’s Elliot Kotek as co-founder and content chief of Not Impossible, and was able to accumulate 100 million media impressions in just its first two weeks from launch. The project also was awarded the SxSW Innovation Award, amongst other accolades. There remains, however, more work than ever to be done to help those living with locked-in conditions like ALS.

Date:  11/02/2015