Paralysed man tweets using eye-tracking technology (video)

15 Jun 2012

Tony Nicklinson. Image courtesy of his Twitter page

Tony Nicklinson, an Englishman who has been paralysed for the past seven years with locked-in syndrome, has sent his first tweet using a special computer that follows his eye movements.

Since he sent his first tweet on 13 June Nicklinson has amassed a Twitter following of 7,058 people, at the time of writing.

In his first tweet, he broadcast: “Hello world. I am tony nicklinson, I have locked-in syndrome and this is my first ever tweet. #tony”.

A few minutes ago he tweeted: “Hello everybody, have just logged on and thought I’d see how many followers I have. Over 7,000. Amazing. Too many to thank separately.#tony”.

In the following video Nicklinson communicates about a stroke seven years ago that left his body “completely paralysed but my mind unharmed”.

Since the stroke in 2005, Nicklinson has had locked-in syndrome, of which there is no cure.

“I can only communicate by a computer that follows my eye movements. That is how I am talking to you now. I am very excited to write my first tweet,” he communicates in the video.

Tony Nicklinson Twitter


Channel 4’s Dispatches will air a documentary about Nicklinson on Monday, 18 June. Apparently he is in a fight with doctors for the right to die.

Locked-in syndrome was covered in the book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a translation of the French memoir Le scaphandre et le papillon by the late Jean-Dominique Bauby, a journalist and editor of the French fashion magazine Elle, who had locked-in syndrome.

A stroke at the age of 43, while he was editor-in-chief of Elle, left him paralysed and only able to communicate by blinking his eye. He managed to dictate his memoir to Claude Mendibil who recited the alphabet over and over using a system known as partner assisted scanning.

The memoir was subsequently made into a film with the same name (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) in 2007.

In this YouTube video, you can see Nicklinson carry out his first tweet:

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic