Russ Miller was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, at just 26 years old. About three years later, he became homeless.
The four years he lived on the streets of Florida would end up being “the darkest period” of his life. Not only did his family pass away, but he was also stabbed while he was sleeping. That’s why it’s all the more shocking that a simple app would drastically change his life for the better.
“I didn’t know how to be an adult, I didn’t know how to take care of myself,” Russ said. “My hands are deformed. So they’re not shaped properly and I can’t bend them like everyone else can. Recently my thumb has stopped working, so I can’t bend it.”
He struggled to find the help he needed while also trying to adapt to his condition over several years. He had a phone, but getting one with a working number was next to impossible because he was homeless and didn’t have an address.
So Russ did the next best thing: He contacted help centers through social media. Unfortunately, he hit another bump in the road.
“I struggled typing on a smartphone, and a keyboard in general. So I started looking for alternative smartphone keyboards that might enable me to type again,” he said.
That’s when he discovered Typewise, a keyboard app that can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android. This Swiss tech company provides users with a unique hexagonal-shaped keyboard that they say leads to four times less typos.
“I found Typewise by accident. I was looking for keyboards that might help and stumbled upon a Reddit thread where Typewise was mentioned. And I thought — this looks different — I’ll try it out,” Russ said. “It’s been progressively helping me further and further.”
Finally able to effectively communicate via text, Russ was able to reach out to organizations that help people with disabilities. Because of that, he has been paired with a personal assistant who helps him with things like writing — and has even been able to get a job!
“Now I have a part-time job where I take care of dogs and cats, Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Russ said. “I can’t work full-time because of my physical issues, but at least I have something to do and something to look forward to.”
Russ was so grateful for the huge role that Typewise played in getting his life back on track that he sent them a message to let them know the impact they’re having. They were absolutely floored.
“We’re just a small startup from Switzerland so we were really quite surprised when Russ contacted us to say how much Typewise had helped turn his life around,” cofounder Janis Bernecker said. “We never thought we could have such a profound impact on someone’s life, especially someone on another continent.”
Moved by his story, Typewise asked to share his experience so that others like him will know that help is out there. Russ couldn’t have been more on board.
“I’ve really struggled with how to get the word out, to try and show people what I’ve done to help myself. And this is part of that,” he said. “Finding Typewise and using it has been a fantastic tool and helped me progress, and be able to do things with my life. I honestly don’t think I could have got to where I am now, if I didn’t have it.”
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