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ICT and special needs Stephen Hawking

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Stephen Hawking – Physicist

Stephen Hawking was born on January 8th 1942. His parents’ house was situated in North London, but during the Second World War, which commenced in 1939, his parents re-located to the city of Oxford due to safety fears in London. At this time, Oxford was considered to be one of, if not the safest place in England to have babies. Stephen was born in Oxford, and he lived there with his parents for the first eight years of his life. It was at this point that he moved back down to London to an area about 20 miles away from where he first lived. It was at eleven years of age that Stephen went to St Albans School, and then on to University College in Oxford. This college in Oxford was the college where his father used to go in his schooling days. Stephen initially went there to study mathematics, a subject he thoroughly enjoyed but his father wanted otherwise. He then ended up studying physics, as mathematics was not available at the University College.

        Stephen then went on to Cambridge University to study Cosmology, the metaphysical study of the origin and nature of the universe. After gaining a PhD in this subject, he became a Research Fellow, and a Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College.

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wheelchair is operated by Hawking manually through a single switch, which, along with programs called Equalizer and EZKeys, allows him to talk; compose speeches, research papers, and books; browse the World Wide Web; write e-mail; and perform most other computer tasks. The system also uses radio transmission to provide control over doors, lights, and lifts at his home and office.

Personal use.

        At home, Stephen Hawking watches television like many other people do in their spare time. In order for him to change the channels on the television set via the remote control, he has got a computer system, with many peripherals attached to it. However, these peripherals are not conventional, but have been specially made for his special needs. One of these peripherals is a universal infrared remote control. This enables him to operate many electronic items around the home, such as, televisions, video and DVD players and music centres. Another one of these peripherals that he has got attached to his computer is a radio-controlled device, which enables him to open doors, and lights around his home.

Social use.

        As Stephen is a world famous Physicist, it is essential for him to have contact with the outside world. This is where his telephone comes in. He can either use his mobile phone, or connect his chair computer directly to a telephone socket on the wall.

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Evaluation Comment – Work Life.

        Stephen’s wheel chair plays a huge part in his working life, and his computer also meets his working life needs greatly. He can do his work at home or while he is on the go because of the mobile Internet capability on his chair. Without his computer, Stephen wouldn’t be able to do any work what so ever, because of his illness. As he is a lecturer, it is vital that he prepares lecturers before hand, and enters them into his speech synthesizer, which enables his to give his lecture. This speech synthesizer plays a huge part in his working life because if he didn’t have it, he couldn’t give a lecture. The switch on his wheel chair also plays a vital part of his working life because it controls the cursor on his computer, letting him choose what words he wants to select for his everyday speech, or lecture. This technology is vital for Stephen because of his special needs. As he has restricted movement in his limbs, he cannot write out, or present his lectures, so he relies on his computer and speech synthesizer greatly.

Scott Adshead.                               Page                                          08/05/2007

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