Javier García de Jalón is 72 years old, lives in Madrid and loves football. He is also a Professor of Applied Mathematics and one of the most respected teachers and scholars in Spain: he has received important international recognitions, including the D’Alembert prize, awarded by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the IFToMM Award of Merit, awarded by the International Federation for the Promotion of Mechanism and Machine Science. In 2019, he also received recognition as a Laureate Engineer by the Spanish Royal Academy of Engineering.
Javier claims to have led a particularly quiet life, dedicated mainly to the university, teaching and research. In 2016, when he was nearing retirement, he was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a neurodegenerative neuromuscular disease that results in the progressive loss of motor neurons that control voluntary muscles. Soon after the diagnosis, Javier joined ADELA, which, through assistance focused on the provision of equipment, physiotherapy, psychology and medical care, makes life easier for patients.
“It seems to be one disease, but it is as if it were numerous, because there are so many different variants”, describes Javier. Despite everything, he feels fortunate: Javier can talk and express himself, he communicates with his friends and uses various apps and particularly Alexa, among other Amazon services, to maintain his independence.
When his mobile phone voice control features were no longer sufficient to meet his needs, he decided to try an Amazon Echo Dot, which happened to had a discount: “I would say that Alexa resolved several problems in my life for little more than 20 euros”. Javier started asking Alexa to play music, switch the radio on, give him general information or the football results. He then discovered other features, such as switching the lights on and off in his home by simply using his voice. Last Christmas, Javier was given an Audible membership gift, and now he also listens to a great number of audiobooks.
But it is the help from ADELA what has been truly invaluable to Javier over the past 4 years: apart from providing medical care services and direct help for patients, together with support and training for family members, ADELA also organizes a number of social activities, such as artistic tours or countryside outings, currently suspended due to the pandemic. Over the past year, many sought ways to reinvent themselves, transferring numerous issues to the online world, including some physiotherapy sessions; but this did not work for all patients and in all aspects of everyday life, which led Javier to reflect on the experiences of other ALS sufferers.
“Any disease is always bad, but if you add to that the fact that many ALS sufferers live alone or have an unusual family situation and, on top of that, a pandemic… it makes you think to what extent do other sufferers have different requirements and what alternatives exist”. Javier, therefore, sees in technology new possibilities for virtual assistance, such as those offered by Alexa to stay in touch, obtain information and keep entertained.
That’s why Amazon is committed to innovating on behalf of customers and working with organizations like ADELA to help make Alexa more inclusive and accessible for everyone.