Stephen Hawking Advertises For Wheelchair Assistant
Stephen Hawking is looking for a technical assistant that can work with computers, electronics and won't buckle under pressure.
But rather than using their powers of technical wizardry to aid the scientist in physics experiments, the winning candidate will help him operate his wheelchair and computer-controlled voice.
The advert on his website features a picture of his wheelchair, complete with wires and complex electronics. The caption reads "STOP PRESS! Could you maintain this?"
The post offers three months travel a year, and £25,000 to help Professor Hawking function in the physics community. The succesful applicant will also need to be able to deal with media and press enquires as well as maintain the wheelchair which has no instruction manual.
Professor Stephen Hawking, who turns 70 on 8 January, is severely disabled by motor neurone disease, paralysed almost completely apart from the ability to press a button with his right hand.
He describes how he communicates on his website:
"I have always used IBM compatible computers, on my wheel chair. They run from batteries under the wheelchair, although an internal battery will keep the computer running for an hour if necessary.
"On the computer, I run a program called Equalizer, written by a company called Words Plus inc. A cursor moves across the upper part of the screen. I can stop it by pressing a switch in my hand. This switch is my only interface with the computer. In this way I can select words, which are printed on the lower part of the screen. When I have built up a sentence, I can send it to a speech synthesizer.
Hawking lives in Cambridge and has been married twice. He has spent almost 40 years in the custom built chair. describing his disability he said:
"I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many. "