If you haven't seen the EyeWriter writeup over at SparkFun, go now and watch it.
The EyeWriter is a project which aims to provide the disabled (particularly patients of ALS, a horrific and lethal disease) with a method of communication and control, even when the disease has ravaged them to the point where motor control of the eye is one of the few that the patient has. It's a horrifying disease and anything that can be done to help patients- "but for the grace of God and all that" it could be any one of us. Bravo on what's been done, an inspiration to do good things.
That being said.. I worked with the mentally and physically handicapped as a teacher and personal care assistant in a group home for a bit over five years, working afternoons and nights to pay for school during the day. My patient base had functional ages from six months to roughly three years, though they were adults ranging from their twenties to late fifties. Virtually all had at least one physical handicap in addition to their primary problem (mental retardation). It's very difficult work physically and mentally... though I think I earned a few points on the "cosmic balance sheet", and I think everyone should do this kind of work, if even for a short time, to learn just how lucky they are.
While I worked there, I ended up building a pictureboard communication system for one patient, which consisted of a series of photos of objects with switches underneath, which then went through a joystick port to a NEC versa laptop running Software Automatic Mouth to speak the words. It worked well for her for many years after I had left that job.
Being disabled myself now, I find my mind drifting back to how good a thing that was. How amazing a thing the above project/device "Eyewriter" is- not to us as geeks, but to us as HUMANS who can give someone back the power to interact and communicate.
Crohns doesn't lend itself to assistive technology (other than a laptop)... not much I can do to help myself. However, we hold in our hand the foundation that could be used to assist others with things that CAN be done.
Just a thought, for all of us. If we have a chance or an idea to do something that can actually HELP someone.. that's beyond cool. That's just plain awesome.
If there's anyone out there working on assistive tech and needs input or help... don't be shy. Who knows, it may be you who needs the help someday!