Physical communication for people who are limited in their ability to speak. On the basis of knowing people who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease and gradually losing their ability to speak, we want to create a communication aid.
Parkinson is a neurodegenerative disease. It causes people to lose step by step activity, such as walking or speaking. Leading syntoms are muscular rigidity, slowed down movement, muscle shivering and posture instability. The disease is incurable. Once the patient reached to the 5th state, where he is no longer able to walk, therapies end.
What is communication? Communication is not a synonyme for speech or words. It is the color of clothes you chose, the meal you order, the movements you make and the mimes and gestures your doing.
Though the thoughts we communicate may be unseizable, communication itself never is. It is always concrete and manifest. It means forming words in your vocal chords or tipping in your laptop. Pressing the button to take a picture or using a pen to draw. Pointing in a direction, smiling or having question tags all over your face. You can just say: The very basis of every communication are motor skills.
What does it mean to lose all dimensions of communication – oral functions same as body language? Which kind of communication would we like to help provide for those people?
To get a deeper understanding of what it’s like not to be able to speak and to find out how we might communicate instead, we did an experiment: We spent 40 minutes to experience everyday things together without speaking.
— permanent misunderstandings: Conny tried to tell me that she likes collecting driftwood; what I understood instead was that she’d like me to pick and throw the wood into the river.
— other people don’t know how to deal with the situation: When seeing me gesturing, the iceman was first irritated, than switched into english.
— strong need to speak out loud
— feeling invincible walls between each other
— no meaningful conversation
How do we communicate without speaking, but with the aid of scripture? In this experiment we exchanged 99 words within 33 minutes – the conversation spoken out loud afterwords took one minute!
— it takes a lot of time: searching for the right letter, picking it and placing it is highly complex!
— banal conversations: during the experiment, it feels like it was a deep conversation; afterwords you realize: It wasn’t at all.
— you start helping each other completing words
— you do not need grammar, punctuation marks,…
3. motor skills
To understand and measure the capacities of people in different states of the disease, we explored motor functions of arms and hands.
We will visit two PD patients to live through one day to identify problems and needs in their daily life. There are three main topics we want to explore together with the PD patients as a basis for reasonable product develepment.
— movement spaces
— physical effort