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Issy and Eye Gaze (AAC in Action)

24 October 2022

Hey Google, tell me a joke!  Now play me Taylor Swift….. 

Like any 15-year-old, Issy enjoys teasing her brother, repeating his name over and over, and playing music he doesn’t like; eye gaze technology has made this, and so much more possible for her.

Issy has complex physical and neurological disabilities including complex communication needs and various vision challenges.   This has meant being totally reliant on family, friends and support staff interpreting her body language, facial expressions and anticipating her needs when participating in educational, recreational, and social activities.

Not being able to communicate independently meant Issy was often a passive participant in school and family activities.

Female professional and younger female using eye gaze technology in a classroomIn 2018 Indigo’s Speech Pathology/Schools team partnered with Issy’s school for their ‘Access all Areas’ project, and Issy was introduced to eye gaze technology.  As a result, a communication door was opened.

With support from Indigo’s Speech Pathologist Tanith, Issy trialed eye gaze technology further, and had her NDIS funding application approved for her own device.

Issy continues to use Indigo’s Speech Pathology services for development of her eye gaze skills.

Working with Tanith, Issy is now able to use a 15-cell communication page with colour contrast customised to support her visual processing.  This allows Issy to greet her friends, share her opinions, choose a partner in class, share comments during book reading, answer questions about a topic and much, much more.  Issy loves music and can now use her 15-cell communication pages in music therapy to request the instruments she wishes to use and chat with her friends.

Issy’s skills in using eye gaze technology have also created greater recreation and learning opportunities. She can now access ‘read aloud’ books and turn the pages independently, play games, and choose and play her favourite songs and music videos.

Female student_switch_kitchenTanith has recently introduced Issy to things she can control using eye gaze that are outside her device like a Google smart speaker, and she had a great time being a more active participant in the kitchen by using her eyes to activate the blender to make smoothies.

Issy’s family, friends and school staff continue to be blown away by the things she can achieve with this communication technology.

Issy’s teacher Lara said “We’ve been so impressed by the increased participation from Issy using her eye gaze technology.  She’s even let us know of her interest in a career in education, first as an EA but it seems she’s set her sights even higher as she recently shared through her communication pages her interest in the role of Principal.”

Issy enthusiastically agrees with her teacher.