We live in a time in which advances in computer technology are creating exciting new opportunities for thousands of people who experience debilitating paralysis from disease and injury each year. No longer does physical disability have to mean a life of isolation and despair. Today, even the most severely disabled of us are using computers equipped with assistive technology to communicate with the people we encounter in our daily lives, stay connected with family and friends, manage our personal affairs, work, create, and attend school.
When I was diagnosed with ALS it never occurred to me to surrender to a life devoid of productivity, happiness, and quality. So I didn't. I adapted. When I could no longer walk, I used a chair. When my arms became so weak that I could no longer work as a professional musician I wrote and with the help of friends, self published a music instruction book. When I could no longer operate a keyboard I wrote with speech recognition software. Eventually, I lost the ability to speak and started using my current system which involves a small infrared sensor that clips to my glasses and responds to tiny facial movements.
Two years ago I discovered digital art and with it came a new passion. I realize that there are limits to what I can accomplish artistically yet I persevere and continue to learn. While my drawings may appear simplistic to some I believe in the universal truth that less is more and that much can be said with a few simple lines.
To truly live a life of quality, however, it is not enough to achieve personal success and happiness. I have been blessed with good insurance, a steady income, and people who love and support me. Others are less fortunate. I believe it is important to offer a helping hand to those in need. It is my hope that this is reflected in my art and how I live . If I have helped others who find themselves in a seemingly hopeless situation realize that disability does not mean inability and that a life of quality is within reach then I have achieved success.
Thomas Nelson (2010)