I was visiting a friend during lunch today. I used to work with this guy, who managed to combine being one of the best ASIC and FPGA design engineers I know with being great at marketing and explaining things to non-technical folks (not a combination one runs across very often).
Sad to relate, my friend has been struck down with ALS, and is now confined to a wheelchair with almost no ability to move or speak at all. He is still active in the community, however, due to an incredible piece of FREE software called Dasher that runs on his PC.
Giving the impression of something like an arcade game, Dasher allows my friend to (relatively) quickly and easily compose text messages, which he can then pass to a speech synthesizer, paste into an email message, add to a word processor document or a PowerPoint presentation, ... the list goes on.
In the past, my friend controlled Dasher with his mouse (this was when he had some small movement left to his hands but had lost the ability to click the mouse button). More recently, he uses an optical tracking device. During my visit, he was eager to demonstrate the latest version of this tool.
The point of all of this is that if you know of anyone who has lost the ability to communicate easily with the outside world due to an accident or a medical problem such as ALS, you might want to point them toward this Dasher utility. Meanwhile, let's all say to ourselves: "There but for the grace of whoever is in charge of the multi-universe go you or I."