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What’s Special About That Plastic Colored Board with Colors & Letters in “The Theory of Everything”?

In “The Theory of Everything,” Jane Hawking tries to teach Stephen how to use an E-trans Board (a perspex sheet of colors and grouped letters) following his tracheotomy. The idea is for the disabled individual to look at a particular letter on the board, and the person holding it would then piece together the words the other one is trying to spell. The board is meant to be a tool for communication, but according to Felicity Jones, she used it as motivation for her character, Jane. Before the tracheotomy, the last real connection she had with Stephen was his voice, and now she has lost it. Jones saw the board as a physical manifestation of the wall that has permanently come between them following this loss, and the fact that it’s a device meant to restore communication makes the experience all the more crueler.