In early March, I was contacted via this Morse Code website by Esther. The subject of her email was, “Morse Code for My Disabled Son.” I opened the email right away, and here’s what it read.
After searching everywhere for some way for my son, Phillip, to communicate I would like to explore the possibility of using Morse code. Phillip was a victim of a gunshot wound to the left side of head. He is very aware of his surroundings, basically it is the motor skills that he lost. He cannot speak and his only usable hand (left-he was right handed) is very awkward and hard to pinpoint his finger on a key or small button. His eyes do not track together well so visual inputs are out. I tried sign language alphabet which he learned and knows very well but his hand is unable to correctly form a quickly recognizable letter for many but the simplest letter signs. He can only stretch the index and thumb.
He can hit an ipad screen button if it is large (such as 2 – 3 on a screen.)
So I am imagining him hit one button for a dit and another for a dah and one for end of word… 3 buttons in all.
The problem is how can it be translated since the hospital staff at the subacute where he lives will probably not learn Morse code. Is there an app/program that can interpret? He has been without a voice for 6 years now and am so afraid that when I go (I am 65 yrs and he is 42) he will be left without a voice and no one really taking the time to see what his pointings and gestures mean.
Immediately Esther peaked my interest. Was this possible? Was it possible that Morse Code, such a low-tech way of communicating, could be the answer for Philip to have a voice again?
After reading Esther’s email, I contacted a friend and co-worker named Bryan Campbell. Bryan was instantly excited about creating a way for Philip to speak again, and went right to work that very night.
Bryan developed an extremely simple application that allows you to easily communicate with Morse Code. If you enter a dit or a dah into the computer screen, it will cycle through the Morse Code and display whichever letter you’re currently on. If you press the “Next” button on the Morse Code application, you can then hear the Morse Code application “speak” the letter. We thought this was a good feature in case Philip’s nurse was across the room and wasn’t focused on what Philip was typing in Morse Code.
Our Morse Code application is still in beta mode and needs to be edited further for Philip to get great use out of it.
Here is a video of Philip trying out his new application – we still need to work on the sliding, but we all think this will work and give Philip a voice again.
Esther’s website is http://www.maravill.com/ where you can follow up with her and Philips progress. I can’t wait to meet you guys soon!