By Bradley Walford
This futuristic technology allows children to communicate solely through the movement of their eyes.
The revolutionary ‘eye-gaze’ technology works by picking up subtle eye movements, and this is tracked by light across the screen.
This exciting piece of kit is tailored towards providing disadvantaged children who struggle with communication, and can’t communicate using their hands, the ability to learn.
Wooley Wood School, a primary school for children with severe and complex learning difficulties and disabilities, introduced this technology over the last few months and has been seeing incredible results ever since.
An example the school demonstrated for us at LT Journalism was an activity where you’d have to look at a frog for it to jump.
From there, the activities get more and more advanced, and before long incredibly the children are able to communicate with each other solely through eye movement.
Ultimately, you can end up with a child that can write full sentences just using the eye-gaze machine.
More commonly however, the children can vocalise essential needs such as asking for food or a drink or saying they need to go the toilet, which although easy for most is essential to these children who struggle to find any other way to communicate these needs.
Petar, a teacher at the school, told us how he had worked with children in secondary schools who are a lot more able, and the eye-gaze has enabled them to make progress towards writing full essays to do their GCSEs by picking out which letters they need.
Once child in particular at Wooley Wood went from having no communication whatsoever to being able to inform staff of complex statements like why he’s upset in a short space of time.
Petar talked of the dignity this gives these children, giving them their own voice. Enthusiastically, he said: “[this technology] helps improve their quality of life.”
Petar was optimistic of the future for eye-gaze. He said: “[the technology] has come a long way in such a short length of time and it has helped out children.” And in time, he hopes this progress will go a lot further.
The use of this technology is still very early days, and the cost for a single piece of equipment is around £7,000. The school is hoping that by publicising the benefits of this technology, this ground-breaking equipment becomes cheaper and more available.