Kati & Henning van der Hoeven

Air Alphabet: Speaking with Your Eyes

If unable to move or to speak, how could you communicate with others?
Besides speaking, there are also different ways that a person can use to communicate.
They can use their hands, for example, to write, draw, point, using sign language. However, all those systems require some ability to move.
One can also use their eyes as a means of communication. Not just by making gestures with their eyes or blinking, but to actually speak with their eyes.
Kati has Locked-In Syndrome, which means that she is almost entirely paralyzed. Moreover, she cannot speak either. Kati talks with her eyes.
The life of a disabled person is challenging and sometimes even bleak. It is even more so if the person cannot speak. Being able to communicate can make a whole lot of difference. It can even turn a horrendous nightmare into a beautiful dream.

Ask the speaker a question


  • MsPolyglot says:

    This was so moving that I am almost in tears. Very inspirational and Kati is beautiful inside and out. The love that Henning and Kati have for each other is so deep and sincere that it just comes through the screen. Henning is such a kind soul. May everyone find the kind of love that you have for each other!

  • BudBrown says:

    Thank you so much. So enjoyable and enlightening.

  • Yitsong Wen says:


  • Heidi says:

    I checked out a few of your videos on YouTube as well. It’s great how something special can grow from a disaster; you just have to let it grow or see the chance.
    How do you learn new languages? Through books? Or videos? Or does Henning teach Kati?
    And the thing we can learn from you is to respect and to value each other despite all the oddities, so thanks a lot for that inspiration!

  • Laura B says:

    This was amazing – I agree with Esther B.

  • Carlos Jimenez says:

    Absolutely incredible and inspiring!

  • Suzanne Zaccour says:

    thanks for your presentation, very interesting! I watched the show Speechless – the main character has cerebral palsy and communicates with a similar board with a pointer. He has common words too on his board so he does not have to spell everything – I’d be curious to know if you have only the alphabet because it allows you to do multiple languages or if there are other reasons to prefer that version.

  • heatherjay94 says:

    This was incredibly moving and inspiring. I could only dream to one day speak, in my target languages, as eloquently as Kati spoke in hers in this video.

  • Anita-Lean says:

    Thank you for your presentation kati and Henning :). It’s inspiring to see.
    I have no idea what the last language is.

  • Zeina-AR-DE-FR-EN says:

    I teared up many times throughout this video.

    It’s simply divine to see Kati successfully communicate. Kati is not only beautiful but is also an inspiration to all of us.

    This video needs more exposure!

    God bless you two 🙂

  • EstherB says:

    This was cool to see in action, I’d love to know more about how and when Kati learned all her languages and more about their life together.

  • Thank you both! This was really interesting! Instantly my language brain gets me wondering about languages with longer alphabets/abugidas and different writing systems. I’m guessing for Chinese for example, pinyin would be used? Thanks again! 🙂

  • Christiane says:

    Is the last language papiamentu? Would make sense with your Dutch last name and the interracial bit you mentioned?

  • Christiane says:

    This is incredible. What an inspiring story. The human brain is a wondrous thing!

    I assume that it’s easiest to understand the Air Alphabet when you are completely at home in the language – you can complete words (like sp -> speak) and communicate faster.

    I noticed that for some words in Italian, Henning had to cycle through 2-3 letters before he got the right one and Kati moved to the next letter. I expect it to be even harder when you are learning a new language.

    How hard is it for you to understand each other when you are both learning a new language and want to communicate in it?

  • Peter says:

    Fascinating! What an innovative way to communicate.

  • 13_nay says:

    Gracias, una presentación increíble y muy inspiradora!

  • Victoriaa says:

    Interesting and inspiring! Thank you 🙂

  • says:

    What a lovely, dynamic, beautiful couple and interesting presentation.

  • Reffi_d says:

    I’m so happy to watch your presentation, wonderful couple and inspiring. 🙂

  • Veronika says:

    Great presentation! I work with people with disabilities and love seeing the different ways to help them express themselves! 🙂

  • aaronocd says:

    Really enjoyed your presentation Kati and Henning. It was absolutely amazing!

  • Simos says:

    Amazing, Wunderschön, φανταστικό!!!
    Thank you for this heartwarming presentation <3

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