How To Tell If My 3 Year Old Physically Delayed Morse Code Helps Man Live With Physical Disability

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Morse Code Helps Man Live With Physical Disability

In 1979, eleven-year-old Steve Harper, unable to speak due to physical disability, cerebral palsy, had never heard of Morse code and struggled to communicate with a walking stick, a sign and a machine. to write Using these methods made communication difficult since someone had to be right with Steve when he tried to understand his messages. Instead he pointed out various symbols and letters. First he had to gain the undivided attention of an adult and then weakly try to make him understand his erratic gestures. Even using the typewriter was awkward and painful. People often ignored what he wrote, making him always discouraged. His frustration at being unable to enjoy normal activities for children his age was compounded by his inability to interact with others effectively. He felt very little independence because speech eluded him, so he had difficulty attracting anyone’s attention.

That same year, the University of Washington received a grant for research into the use of code as an assistive technology for the disabled. Steve’s speech therapist allowed him to be a subject of the research grant at the University of Washington where he learned the code. Steve was chosen as one of four children to participate in this research. Although Steven and his parents disliked and initially opposed learning the code, in just two weeks he had mastered the forty-four characters of Morse code. He says that his life became much easier after he started using the code communicator because he received his messages twice as fast as before and gained the independence to be able to function on his own.

Since then he has used the code as his assistive technology. It has much more independence because the code is adaptable to the computer. Anyone using the technology can type and then “speak” using a speech synthesizer. Morse code made Steve’s life and the lives of other disabled people easier.

Most recently, Steve Harper serves as a volunteer mentor for the disabled at the University of Washington. Telling his story, he says that he could neither walk nor speak because of a lack of oxygen that occurred at birth. He says: “I use a Morse code communicator, which is mounted on the front of my wheelchair. I have two switches on each side of my head where I touch the code. The switch on the right side is dots, the left side is dashes. and I drive my wheelchair with my head, too. I have this thing called “KE:NX”, a special adapter that allows me to use my code with a MAC computer so that I can actually communicate with you.”

A brave young man who overcame major physical obstacles, he is now a computer technology guru and believes that much of his achievement is the result of his experience with Morse code.

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