Thirteen years ago, a severe stroke left my mom paralyzed on her right side and with aphasia, a significant limitation in her ability to express herself with written and spoken language.
Email and texting were impossible for her, so after a lot of experiments, we created Tapgram with the aim of making messaging easier for my mom and people like her.
In essence, Tapgram is a networked picture board that allows mom to use large icons to compose simple messages and then share them easily with friends and loved ones. Messages can be easily emailed or posted to Facebook. They also appear in her social feed. No keyboard required!
She can create messages from one of three customizable boards: one for feelings, places, or people. For example, the icon for “restaurant” can be “Joe’s Diner” or even switched to a picture of the diner – or Joe himself.
After a message has been shared, it is easy to post a picture reply by tapping on a high-five, a flower, a happy face, a wink, or even their own picture. People can also easily share a photo with their Tapgram friends.
Mom’s friends and family use Tapgram all the time to stay in touch, and she feels more connected than ever to the people in her life. Interestingly, she has also had one of the best periods of improvement in her speech since the period directly after her stroke. While I can’t say for sure that its due to Tapgram, it is clear that mitigating isolation and increasing a sense of connection has been a huge plus.
I check my feed and shoot mom quick replies throughout my day. I also send her pictures of my kids doing fun stuff throughout the day.
A couple of days ago, I sent her a picture of us eating an ice cream cone, and she sent me a high five.There is no other way for her to independently look at a picture easily, let alone send me a quick reply.
We launched Tapgram as a free web-based service several months ago and have hundreds of users including stroke survivors, people with Autism, as well as the elderly.
Our mother-son R&D department is still busy as we are constantly making tweaks and changes to Tapgram as well as dreaming about new ways to make messaging more accessible for all.
by Chad Ruble
Please click on the YouTube link below to watch a short video on Chad and Lindy’s inspirational journey to make messaging accessible for all!