Adults and children with a disability now have access to a new, innovative technology that advances their ability to communicate. This high-resolution eye tracking technology called Tobii, uses eye movements to generate synthesised speech and is already having an enormous impact on the lives of people with a disability and their families at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s (CPA) Croudace Bay Therapy Centre.
Oscar and Felix are four-year-old twin boys that have a progressive neurological disorder. At a young age, the boys both regressed in skills and stopped crawling and speaking. Since then, the boys have remained non-verbal, however thanks to the new technology they have been able to regain the ability to communicate. The boys are currently learning how to use a computer and control the mouse in order to make a sentence. They will continue to work with their therapists to learn to use age-appropriate games and apps and develop skills that will lead to more complex, language-based communication tools.
These skills will help Oscar and Felix to communicate because Tobii plays to their strengths, namely using their eye movements to sort out information, instead of using the more than 100 muscles required for speech, which have been impacted by their motor disorder.
Tobii has had a huge impact on the clients of CPA, who have been able to test and use this technology. Learning the skills to communicate means they will be able to participate in mainstream activities such as education and recreation and employment, as they will be able to communicate independently. More broadly, the inclusion of people with disability benefits the wider community socially and economically and creates a more diverse and accepting society where all people are valued as part of our community.
Additionally, the therapists and support teams benefit by being able to develop their professional and clinical skills working with eye-gaze technology to better support the needs of their clients and more readily understand what their clients want.
Shannon Taylor from CPA said, “We have such a strong, friendly partnership with Port Waratah. In addition to the generous funding provided for the Tobii device and the Daessy mounting system that supports it, Port Waratah also supported us with funding for two pressure mapping systems to support the assessment and prescription of seating solutions for our clients.
“Port Waratah have also toured our site at Croudace Bay and participated in CPA’s health and wellbeing fundraiser, STEPtember, raising an amazing $10,756 and collectively taking 8,258,597 steps – a remarkable effort for only 30 participants!”