“There’s a very special person I’d like to tell you about. He’s written many books.”
“Very nice,” you reply with a slightly bored expression.
“With his eye.”
“With his what???!”
“Yes, with his eye. His name is Dr. Rachamim Melamid-Cohen.
Twenty-five years ago, at age 58, Dr. Melamed-Cohen was diagnosed with ALS. He was married with six children, a PhD in Special Education, a leading position in Israel’s Ministry of Education, a pioneer of special education programs throughout the country when his world fell apart. He had felt weakness in his shoulder which spread down to his arm and then his fingers. One Friday night, as he was making Kiddush, the cup shook and the wine spilled. Something seemed very wrong and he, together with his wife, Elisheva, began to make the rounds of neurologists until finally receiving the dread diagnosis of ALS. He was told that all of his organs will eventually lose their ability to function. Eventually, a fly will land his nose and he will be dependent on others to brush it away. ‘You have 3-5 years to live’ said the doctors, three of whom were no longer alive themselves 12 years after his diagnosis.
Within two years, he’d lost the ability to eat using his mouth. Seven years after diagnosis, he was totally paralyzed and connected to a respirator. All too soon, only his eyes were functioning.
But he refused to give up.
Ezer Mizion’s Alternative Communication Division was at his side. He was provided with an eye-tracker system, a highly complex device which Ezer Mizion was able to successfully train him to use. This gifted him the ability of communication, learning, social involvement and constant personal growth – despite his debilitating disease. The Click2Speak eye gaze controlled virtual keyboard, which was developed by Click2Speak in collaboration with Ezer Mizion, was another device that he enjoyed using, claiming that this tool truly improved his quality of life by enabling communication and environmental control through eye movements.
Since then, he wrote 20 books on many topics: research, poetry, education, and prose. Filled with joy of life, he learned how to create pictures digitally. Ten exhibits of his pictures, drawn with eye control, have been displayed in Israel and abroad.
Dr. Melamed-Cohen corresponded with people around the world, wrote articles for newspapers and used vast digital resources to prepare for Torah classes that took place in his home every day – all accomplished using computerized eye control.
Dr. Melamed Cohen passed away in November 2020 at the age of 83 after a fulfilling life that was enriched through Ezer Mizion’s AAC developments.
Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.