CNET : Internet : Guidebook


By Anthony Sivabalan Thanasayan
November 5, 1999

Economist Victor Liew, 35, stepped out of his car one night on the emergency parking lane when the vehicle developed engine trouble.

He was inspecting the engine when all of a sudden, another car from nowhere skidded, lost control and rammed into the rear of the stationary vehicle. The impact hurled Victor into the air and onto the highway tarmac five yards away.

Liew woke up in the hospital only to be told by the doctors that he was now paralyzed from the neck down.

"I thought I would never survive, but thanks to the hospital staff and my family, I managed to pull through, somehow," he said, recalling that tragic night in 1994 and the subsequent rehabilitation ordeal as if it were yesterday.

"Initially, there wasn't much for me to do when I came home," notes the bachelor who lost his job and is now cared for by his mother and sister. "All I did was watch TV all day and all night. Then one day a friend dropped by and suggested that I learn how to use a computer. A computer? I lighted up at that thought at once," he said, although he had never used one before.

Several of Liew's friends told him about a voice recognition software from the U.S. called DragonDictate for Windows. Through their help and his family, he managed to purchase the software, got a TMnet account and now surfs the Net regularly.

"I was thrilled at the thought that I could get my words printed on the computer by just speaking," said Liew. "It immediately opened an entirely new world for me. In fact (a year later), I was able to even create my own homepage through the program," he said.

The program uses discrete speech which means pausing between each word. Liew executes instructions verbally to the computer via a microphone headset and is assisted by a family member to switch the computer on. "Though HTML and other stuff were at first all new and often a tardy process for me, I picked it up as I went along," he said.

Liew says he also received invaluable help from another quadriplegic friend he befriended last year on the Internet by the name of Anwar Ahmad from Pakistan. "Anwar took the time and trouble to coach me via the Internet whenever I came across difficulties. Email and the Internet are without doubt the best things in life for me now. Through it, I feel as if I am very much a part of the global village.

"The Internet also gives me the fabulous opportunity to be of service and help to others in my situation, not just in Malaysia but also those in other nations as well," he said, having helped Anwar obtain software from Kuala Lumpur through able-bodied friends.

"I have also helped other disabled friends in California, Germany and Thailand on the Net with advice on how to use the computer," he added with a certain sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.


Anthony Sivabalan Thanasayan is a contributor for Wheel Power, a column on disabilities, and Air Raves, a column on radio programs for the Star newspaper. He is also active in disabled advocacy and a director and trainer of Malaysia's first service dog program. Email us your comments.



Power medium

A leveler

Net impact
 Personal Stories
Victor Liew's Homepage

Anwar Ahmad, a tetraplegic's story

Disabled encouraged to work with technology
From the BBC site

Norman's Conquest
From Rehab Report Magazine

Emmett's HomePage

Who is Anthony?

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