-- Business blog now available --

A quick note to say that I've set up my Business blog, to be able to speak with a clear voice on both personal and work issues (i.e. by having separate blogs).

Thursday, 27 March 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterly - IRL #2

So we arrive at the hospital and go to the High Dependency Unit. This is where the Groom was being cared for, because he lacks bodily movement and needs to be looked after round the clock.

We clean our hands with the cleaner provided, doing our bit to help with MRSA etc. :-s

There's the Groom's children, and various friends and relations from both sides. There are balloons and other accoutrements to get everyone in the spirit. The Registrar and her assistant wait patiently.

I'm in a suit for the big occasion and after while I get a little warm. The Bride is there, looking fantastic, if a little apprehensive.

The Groom is wheeled in and we make supportive noises; the ceremony begins. It's the standard marriage ceremony - most UK folk will be familiar. One of the key passages is the exchange of vows - i.e. saying "I Do".

Now, given that the Groom can't speak, can't sign anything and can't do sign language - how does he say / indicate "I do"? In this case, it was using a fascinating gadget called My Tobii.

This is a nifty, flatscreen-based device "with a difference". The difference is that around the screen are sensors which track eye movement. The device itself runs software which can be controlled by eye movements ("saccades" I believe), also with blinking.

So, the Groom was able (although with some assistance) to say "I Do"--rather like Stephen Hawking can, although Professor Hawking can move his fingers slightly, but it's the same deal.

Also, the Groom had to be based as mentally capable by one of the Hospital Consultants. What we observed was the Registrar applying the same tests which she'd use for any other wedding in this particular one.

What made the difference was technology, a tool to give a window into the Groom's life. :-D

Once the Ceremony was over, the Groom was able to trigger the My Tobii device to read out a little speech he'd prepared in the days leading up to the big day.

So, a man whose life has been drastically altered has a way of showing his inner will and love for his (now) wife, in front of the assembled throng. How he copes with the frustration of being "Locked In" is beyond me, but here's something to make us all smile.

See also my earlier post - here. Also #3 post here.
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