We believe that people that are unable to talk should have the ability to keep on being connected with the rest of society. Our solutions are designed to enable communication, surf the web and read ebooks using appropriate technology that meets their needs.
When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease, it was a shock for all of us in the family. She had always been very active and to see her slowly degenerate to the situation she was in was very difficult.
My interactions with her made me better understand the importance of communication. With the loss of her voice, she communicated with an Alphabet Board, pointing to letters to spell words to tell us about something. My family felt that since there was no available treatment, the least we could do is to ensure her comfort.
Initially, I thought that communication was important to allow her to tell us what she needed. However, I came to realize that communication is two-ways and it was important that I too made small talk to comfort her. It was important that she felt the warmth of the family during this period. As the strength in her hands deteriorated, she lost her ability to move her pencil or pointer and the alphabet board became ineffective. We invited an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) specialist to visit us at home to be aware of available AAC devices that may be useful to her. That was the first time I was introduced to the world of AAC. I realized that besides alphabet boards that were used with the hand or pencil, there were also alphabet boards which used eye movements. Besides that, there were also proprietary AAC tablets which used switches to operate. My mother-in-law tried out all the AAC devices, but none seemed to be useful. The AAC specialist then advised that we try out the high-tech option which was the eye-tracking solution. She tried it and although it seemed difficult for her, we decided to purchase the solution thinking that there was no other alternative anyway. My family hoped that while the $7000 high-tech solution was expensive, she would get the hang of it and that would allow us to continue communicating with her. However, this appeared not to be the case. She had to stare to focus on the letters causing her eyes to strain and get tired quickly. She trained daily but still found it difficult to aim on the letters. It was also a solution that required setting up and since it required her to look at the eye tracking tablet instead of us, it was less personal and enjoyable and she lost interest quickly.
Gradually, it became more and more difficult for us to encourage her to use the system. I continued my research online and realized that there were other alternatives. Instead of using her eyes, a laser could be used to point to the Alphabet Board. I decided to create the solution by modifying quality lasers pointers to ensure that they are safe to use. The laser pointers could also be operated by a switch instead of continuously pressing a button as is the conventional way of using laser pointers. This solution comes with an Alphabet Board, Alphabet Board frame, a clamp to hold the Alphabet board in a flexible yet sturdy manner and a cap with a laser point holder to ensure that the laser is securely fixed. The Keep On Talking Solution was developed. It is my hope that others will benefit from the solution as my mother-in-law did.
Founder and CEO, Keep on Solutions
For years, we have observed that ALS/MND patients have resorted to eye-tracking technology equipment as there are few alternatives. Despite spending thousands of dollars, we noticed that patients are reluctant to use the technology. Eye-tracking technology often takes time to set up and even when in use, it strains the eyes and makes them tired quickly.
Alphabet Communication Boards and Switches have been known to be effective alternatives, but getting a comprehensive solution that was easy to use was challenging. Keep On Solutions was set up to develop customized effective solutions to meet this need. These solutions are perfect for those with limited mobility but are still able to make slight movements of the head, feet or hands to communicate and operate the switches. We realized that even through our solutions were developed as an alternative to the eye-tracking solution, ALS/MND patients whom already had the eye-tracking solution preferred to use appropriate technology solutions in their day to day activities as long as they had some mobility to do so. Besides being affordable, usage of such appropriate technologies are more personal, convenient and easy to use.