Caption: ['One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse
to soar.' Helen Keller]
Caption: [Michael Williams prepared his responses prior to our taping.]
Michael Williams is shown leaving a building and going down the sidewalk
in his power wheelchair.
Michael Williams [synthesized speech]: "My name is Michael Williams.
I am a writer and consultant and my disability is called cerebral palsy."
[Vocalizations and street noise]
Michael [synthesized speech]: "I have been disabled ever since I was
born. I have never let this fact discourage me from doing the very best
I can with my life."
Michael is sitting inside with his device in front of him. He is wearing
a beret. Behind him are many full bookshelves.
Caption: [Michael Williams Writer/Consultant]
Michael [synthesized speech]: "At this time, all my major activities
center around the field of augmentative and alternative communication."
Close-ups show Michael pushing buttons on the device.
Michael [synthesized speech]: "I write a newsletter for augmentative
communicators called "Alternatively Speaking." Pages from the newsletter
Michael [synthesized speech]: "I am a member of the executive committee
of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication,
or ISSAC. I am the first augmented communicator to serve on this committee.
I am also involved with a project at Penn. State that is investigating
whether it's possible to mentor augmented communicators via e-mail.
You'll notice something very unusual is going on here. Not once since
I started this discourse have I moved my lips."
Various angles of the man are shown, including close-ups of his device.
Michael [synthesized speech]: "No, I'm not trying to be some sort of
new age ventriloquist. Had I attempted to convey the same information
using my biological voice, not many people would understand what I was
Michael [speech, unintelligible]: "This is my voice without the board."
Michael [synthesized speech]: "This voice output communication device
is but one of the many tools in my assistive technology arsenal that
I use to communicate my thoughts to the outside world. In addition to
this voice output communication device, I also make extensive use of
e-mail and the fax machine. In addition to these high-tech devices,
I also use a low-tech letter board."
Michael pulls a letter board from the side of his wheelchair and shows
Michael [synthesized speech]: "I use this to spell out words letter
by letter. This limited the people I could communicate with. After all,
you can't use a letter board to talk with a small child, or a blind
person, or a person with dyslexia."
Michael is outside on his porch reading a book.
Michael [synthesized speech]: "My voice output communication device
helps me establish myself as a sentient human being when I'm out in
Michael finishes his reading and uses his power wheelchair to go back
Michael [synthesized speech]: "This is most important for me, for I
am afraid that Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public tend to view people with
speech disabilities as two carrots short of a stew."
Michael is using his computer. He uses a trackball mouse and the computer
keyboard with his right hand.
Michael [synthesized speech]: "Modern technology has helped me tremendously
in my struggle to become a full human being who participates in a meaningful
way in his society. But such were not always the case. As you can see,
I'm not a member of Generation 'X.' I was born in the late 1930's and
these technologies weren't even dreamt of then. My first piece of assistive
technology was my grandfather's standard manual typewriter. I used typewriters
to communicate all through grade school, high school, and during my
undergraduate years in college."
A variety of pins on Michael's wall are displayed.
Michael [synthesized speech]: "In the late 1970's, I became the first
person on my block to get a personal computer. When I saw the possibilities
this machine brought into my life, I became an enthusiastic supporter
of this technology in the lives of people with disabilities."
Caption: [Used with Permission, Enable, People with Disabilities and
Computers, Copyright 1999, Microsoft Corporation]