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University of Connecticut Assistive Technology Oral History Project

Paul Schwejda & Judy McDonald

November 26, 2011

Gregg Vanderheiden alerted me to the inventors of the Adaptive Firmware Card (AFC). In November I spent time in Alameda California enjoying our two grandchildren. It also afforded a convenient way to fly to Seattle and interview the inventors, Judy McDonald and Paul Swejda. I arrived in Seattle Saturday morning November 26, 2011 and Judy and Paul drove to Seattle from their home in Oregon. Shortly after my arrival at a hotel we all stayed in, I set up a camcorder in their room and was able to spend a very enjoyable time hearing more about their career in assistive technology. The AFC was a spinoff of a project at the University of Washington. The AFC gave people with disabilities a way to access an Apple computer. It fooled the Apple into thinking it was a multi-tasking computer. Clearly the AFC was an extremely important assistive technology device.

Gregg Vanderheiden provided me with his version of how these two met. The first of their video snippets covers their early years and their version of how they met. The second snippet provides an overview of how the AFC came about, what it could do and why it was so important for people with disabilities. This snippet also includes a photo of an AFC that I purchased recently on eBay.

Although I traveled to Seattle to interview Judy and Paul, our early conversations indicated that it would also be an opportunity for me to interview two people with severe cerebral palsy who had participated in a Morse code project that Paul and Judy had worked in some 30 years ago. These two remarkable individuals still communicate entirely through Morse code and Paul and Judy have kept in contact with them ever since.

Actually that's another story and it appears in an article on the ConnSENSE Bulletin website along with video snippets.

Snippet 1: "Gregg Vanderheiden gave me his version of how you two met. Can you share with us your version?"

Snippet 2: "Please tell us how the Adaptive Firmware came about and what it could do when added to an early Apple computer."

Download: Full Transcript