Typing with your eyes.
Who would have ever thought this was possible? But technology has made it happen for people who can make little or no use of their hands or speech.
The device which makes this possible is called the Advanced Eyegaze Technology (AET), two were donated last week to the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), San Fernando, courtesy the Children’s Ark Foundation.
The AET costs between US$12,000 to US$15,000 each. One was donated to an accountant who lost his mobility after an accident and the second is to be placed in the computer lab of the NCPD for wider use by the institution. The Ark was asked, by its donor who chose to remain anonymous, to identify 12 possible candidates, mainly children between the ages of four and 19.
NCPD’s CEO Dr Beverly Beckles said the eye-operated computer-like device has created an air of excitement at the centre and has opened doors to limitless possibilities for some individuals who never thought they would one day be able to type on a computer and message friends and relatives.
While it is for people with physical challenges, Beckles explained people who will have access to the device must have some cognitive ability.
Children’s Ark president Simone de la Bastide, accompanied by directors Justice Kathy-Ann Waterman and Carolyn Hart, said the requirements for use include the ability to remain still, good control of at least one eye, and a sufficient cognitive level of control in order to use the system and make selections.
“The AET system empowers people with disabilities to interact and communicate with the world, either by generating speech through typing or selecting varied programmes with their eyes. This allows them to use the internet, study, participate in conferences, write books and earn their degrees. It opens up a whole different world for AET users.”
Beckles said, “I feel very elated to have been selected for such a piece of equipment. It provides an opportunity for others to benefit, not just one individual.” She said AET would be positioned in their computer lab with other assisted devices to create more opportunities for young people with challenges to realise their full potential.