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Steve Gleason works to make technology easier for people with disabilities

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Former Cougar football player and NFL great was struck with ALS in 2011. Now he dedicates his life to helping people with the disease including helping Microsoft and their "eye gaze" technology.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

By now, most of us know the story of Steve Gleason. Cougar great turned NFL star and hero of New Orleans, struck down in 2011 by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. Since then, he's started an amazing organization called Team Gleason that works to help those with the disease and, ultimately, end it.

Since beginning the fight, Gleason has been on the cutting edge of technology. In 2012, Gleason lost the use of his voice and has been using technology to speak. He uses a program that tracks his pupils and allows him to do anything he wants on an equipped computer. Everything from moving his wheel chair to playing music to typing awesome tweets (He lost his voice, but not his sense of humor) can be done from a tablet attached to the front of his powered wheel chair. He explained how everything works in this 2013 guest post he wrote for SI.com's Monday Morning Quarterback, that he says took him 4 and a half hours to write with his eyes:

I have a tablet PC attached to my power wheelchair. This tablet, my command center, sits about 18 inches from my face. At the base of my tablet, I have a black bar that houses infrared cameras that track my pupils. From there, I have a toolbar on the right side of my tablet screen that has mouse commands: left click, right click, double click, etc. So, I look at my on-screen commands for half a second, and those commands select. Then I look wherever I want to click on screen. For example, if I want to minimize my Spotify application, I look at the "left click" command, then gaze at the app's minimize button.

But the technology isn't without its issues. Gleason has recently been visiting numerous technology companies to work on improving the compatibility of their products. Gleason himself uses a Microsoft tablet (As seen in this great Super Bowl ad from February) and, as of now, when the tablet turns off, someone else has to step in and turn it on. This past week, Gleason went to Microsoft and worked with a team of developers to make their products more accessible. KING 5 covered the visit:

Working on compatibility issues for those with disabilities is just one of the many things Gleason and his Team Gleason foundation do. If you want to learn more about Steve and what Team Gleason does, visit them at TeamGleason.org.

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