Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Enhancing the communication process

The serendipitous discovery of the method of communication was the key event that prevented my relegation to the realm of the undead. (I must qualify it by saying that the discovery was 'almost serendipitous' because talk of some means of communicating with me was 'in the air'. Jaya and the doctors were discussing various methods of eliciting my thoughts.) Although the basic structure has remained the same over the years, there were some roadblocks which necessitated a few additions.

Initially, I used to be stymied by the problem of how to indicate to Jaya that I wanted to dictate something. I would stare at a table nearby on which a book was kept and eventually Jaya guessed that I wanted to say something. But that was in the hospital. When I was discharged and came back home, I did not know where to look in order to give Jaya the same indication. I stared in the same direction in which I remembered the table position in the hospital room. After some trials and errors Jaya finally managed to guess what I meant. When this happened a few times, we developed a convention - if I opened and closed my mouth like a fish, it meant I wanted to convey something.

In order to avoid 'on epi' type errors (of course that was a different type of error- a space was inserted where there was none) we had to develop something for spacebar.I took to shaking my head from side to side to indicate a space. By this Jaya understood that the next letter was the beginning of the next word. I did not have to do this everytime because in many instances the word will be apparent after I dictate a few letters.

Another problem was that of punctuations. There were a few instances when the meaning of the sentence was changed because of the lack of punctuation. I started nodding up and down after dictating a letter. Jaya will guess that there is some punctuation mark there and will start guessing - full stop, comma, brackets, single quotes, double quotes, semicolon etc and I will blink for the correct alternative. This was much better than dictating 'sonapostrophes' for "son's" which would have been a mess.

For pronunciations I relied on rhyming words. For instances, if Sujit, wanted to know the pronunciation of 'coelom' I will say that the first half is pronounced as 'see' and the second half rhymes with 'come'. Of course, if I was sitting I will take the easy option of checking the audio link of an online dictionary.

For diagrams I will give a verbal description and hope that Jaya will understand how to draw it. As Sujit goes to higher classes and the drawings become more complicated, I don't know how successful I will be.

With experience, we are much quicker than suggested by the description. Still it is tedious and I am always glad when Jaya or someone else guesses a word after I have dictated a few letters.

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