Using his laptop, wife and friends to physically speak for him, legendary film critic Roger Ebert explains how losing the ability to speak affected his life and career. He was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer in 2002 and eventually lost the lower part of his jaw, along with his ability to eat and talk.

Ebert was the first person to win a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism and co-hosted a movie review TV program with fellow Chicago critic Gene Siskel for 23 years. He continues to write movie reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times and has found a new voice for his thoughts on Twitter and his blog.

“Now we live in the age of the Internet, which seems to be creating a forum of global consciousness, and because of it, I can communicate as well as I ever could,” Ebert said. “We are born into a box of time and space, we use words and communication to break out of it and to reach out to others. For me, the Internet began as a useful tool, and now has become something I rely on for my actual daily existence.”

Below is Ebert’s inspiring talk from TED2011, filmed in March 2011.