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Max and EagleEyes

Posted by Debbie Inkley on July 20, 2016

When I first started volunteering at the Salt Lake School for the Deaf and Blind, my friend Debbie Inkley told me something that has stuck with me ever since. She said the most important thing that I want you to remember while working with these incredible kids is that there is a real person locked inside that body. A person with intelligence, aspirations, and personality just like we all have. Unfortunately they are not able to express all those things and function like we are. Over the last few months while I have worked with these children, I have come to understand that there is not a statement that is truer than that one. Everyday that I work with these kids I am able to see the unbelievable things they can achieve and improvements they make each day. And thanks to programs like EagleEyes, the process of these children’s progression is greatly expedited and they are able to achieve things that they would not have been able to achieve otherwise.

I can fondly remember the first time I ever heard about the EagleEyes program. We watched a short documentary on the creator of EagleEyes, Professor Jim Gips, and how EagleEyes became what it is today. In the documentary there were several children with severe disabilities that made most of society turn a blind eye to them and deem them completely incognizant. Throughout the video you see how with the help of EagleEyes, these tenacious kids are able to communicate, learn, and experience life just like a normal human. In the video there is one young man in particular that absolutely floored me and made me want to pursue volunteer work with special needs kids. His name was Michael and his whole life his mother was told that he had the intelligence of a 6 month old. Though this news was incredibly discouraging, Michael’s mother refused to believe it. One day while Michael’s mother was flipping through the television channels, she stumbled across a report on EagleEyes and she knew it was the perfect program for Michael. She continuously contacted Professer Jim Gips and after enough badgering, Professor Gips agreed to try the technology out on Michael. Only after using EagleEyes for a short while, it was clear to Jim Gips and Michael’s mother that he was a fully intelligent being that was trapped inside a disabled body. Shortly after getting comfortable with EagleEyes, Michael was able to start attending school again. He sat through classes with an aide and was able to do assignments and tests using the EagleEyes technology. Through hard work and a love for learning, Michael was able to graduate high school and receive his diploma. Michael took the same classes, got the same weighted grades, and received the same diploma that every other student did at that school and it was only possible because of EagleEyes.

After hearing Michael’s story, I knew that I had to volunteer at a special needs facility. Making that choice was one of the best things I have ever done with my life. I cannot remember a single day that I worked with the children in my class and didn’t leave with a feeling of elevation. And it’s funny because I have always thought of my volunteer work as ironically selfish. Selfish because it may seem like I am giving a lot of my time and energy in my volunteer work, but it compares nothing to what I receive in return. I receive raw love, compassion, and most importantly fulfillment. Fulfillment from knowing that I am making a difference in these children’s lives and that I get to go and do impactful work every day.

My favorite thing about the class I volunteer in is the diversity of personalities that exist. Emma is curious about her surroundings and loves to interact with people, Waylon likes his personal space but will never hesitate to play with you, and little Hannah just loves being a part of what’s going on and will never turn down an opportunity to give you the biggest smile she can give. I love seeing all the diverse personalities because it shows that they are truly their own person and that is extremely important because they are often only seen as their disability. I have learned firsthand that these phenomenal children are our equals; you just need to look a little closer to see the resemblance.

I would like to end with thanking the entire EagleEyes family for the fantastic work they do by implementing the EagleEyes technology and changing countless lives. I would also like to thank my Community of Caring Teacher Chip Hopkins. If it wasn’t for him, I would have never been provided the avenue to do such meaningful volunteer work and receive such fulfillment. 

Max Strayer

May 2016

Justin’s Story

Posted by Debbie Inkley on July 20, 2016

When we first saw the documentary on EagleEyes in June of 2015, it seemed tailor made for our son and we immediately contacted The Opportunity Foundation of America, eager to give it a try. We attended the EagleEyes Training not really knowing what to expect in terms of his capabilities and we were elated when he started blasting aliens! Since then, it’s been wonderful watching him discover the power of using his eyes. In addition to playing games for enjoyment, he uses EagleEyes to make choices by targeting the desired icon on the screen. It’s still relatively early days and we don’t know if he’ll progress to a more complex communication system, but we now have the technology to explore software programs that were previously out-of- reach. As a fun experiment, we recently used the Herbi Speaks software, introduced to us by The Opportunity Foundation of America, to create custom “buttons” on the screen containing words instead of the icons he’s accustomed to. The three buttons were “I” “love” and “you”. We thought he would randomly explore the buttons and we were beyond ecstatic when moved from left to right in a seemingly purposeful way to say “I love you” for the first! WOW, what a gift!

Judy Lee, Justin’s Mom

May 5 th , 2016

Adam's Grandpa and EagleEyes

Posted by Debbie Inkley on July 18, 2016

“Adam is our grandson, he is 5 years old. Yesterday I watched him play a computer game that made the monkeys jump on the bed while whimsical music played. Adam giggled then, miracle of miracles, Adam made it play again and then again! What kind of miracle is that you might ask It’s the most remarkable kind if your grandson has quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Adam cannot speak, sit up, crawl, walk or roll over and is fed with a tube in his tummy. But when Adam started using EE the world changed for him and those who love him. When Adam’s eyes dwell on a graphic icon it “clicks” like a mouse. I call it the click heard around the world”.

-Bob Cornelison-EagleEyes Grandpa

St Louis, Missouri

EagleEyes Featured on Comcast

Posted by Debbie Inkley on January 8, 2016

Ice Skating on Wheels 2016

Posted by Debbie Inkley on January 8, 2016

Volunteers take to the ice, skating with kids with disabilities

Published 01/02 2016 05:53PM    Updated 01/02 2016 05:58PM

Watch Original Video and Story Here

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Lots of love and life changing fun, taking place, today at the Cottonwood Heights rec center. Able bodied volunteers took to the ice, skating with kids with disabilities in wheel chairs.

For the 3rd year in a row, volunteers went skating with special needs students from several area schools.

Shannon Hoffman says it’s something her daughter Kate loves to do every year. “She loves going around with kids and it’s an awesome experience for her because she actually gets to enjoy the joy of ice skating which she wouldn't normally be able to do."

One of the sponsors of the event is a group called The Opportunity Foundation of America.

Debbie Inkley with the organization told us, “It is so much fun because they get to go fast and these kids generally do not get  to go fast and so with the help of family volunteers or high school volunteers, they are pushing them in their chairs, they get to go fast."

And the volunteers have just as much fun as the kids.

Jordan High Volunteers

Posted by Debbie Inkley on November 19, 2015

Jordan Valley, Jordan High Students Bond With “Eagle Eyes” Technology

Jordan Valley.jpg

Original Storry can be read at valleyjournals.com

By Julie Slama

For years, Jordan Valley teacher Kat Winch would try teaching her students who couldn’t verbally communicate or wouldn’t be able to move much in a wheelchair, and wondered if she was getting through to them.

“The kids couldn’t tell me how they understood, and I know they were quite intelligent,” Winch said.

So when The Opportunity Foundation of America introduced “Eagle Eyes” technology to Jordan Valley, a whole new world opened up to those students.

The device is a box about the size of a DVD case that is plugged into a computer. Electrodes are placed above and below, as well as on the sides of, the student’s eyes. They then generate a response when their eyes move up, down, left or right, making the cursor on the computer screen move accordingly, said executive director and founder Debbie Inkley. 

One of the first things students try is painting to understand how their eye movement is connected to what is happening on the screen. Then, students use Eagle Eyes through games, such as chasing and shooting at space aliens, which actually is a learning tool to help them master cause and effect, Inkley said. In time, students may be able to advance to programs that help them communicate better.

The technology was developed at Boston College in 1994 and has undergone several advances. The Opportunity Foundation of America distributes the systems worldwide.

Winch, who has a son who uses Eagle Eyes, knows it helps students and is amazed at what her students now are able to accomplish.

“Eagle Eyes shows how smart they are and how they can show cause and effect, demonstrate how things are connected and how they can make choices when they understand something,” Winch said. 

However, it isn’t just Jordan Valley teachers helping these students. Eleven Jordan High students who are part of the Peer Leadership Team have volunteered their time to help Jordan Valley students with Eagle Eyes and another similar program, called “Camera Mouse,” which allows students with the ability of some movement to move their heads to control the mouse. It’s the second year Jordan students have been involved.

“Part of the magic is with these high school students. Jordan Valley students are gaining more than extra helpers: they’re realizing these peers can be their friends, and most of those students don’t have many friends. And Jordan high schoolers are learning to appreciate these students, realizing they are very bright, but just locked up in their bodies,” Inkley said.

Earlier this school year, Jordan High students learned about the students and programs by placing the electrodes on their own classmates and testing the programs themselves.

“I’m a little nervous about it because I have a neighbor who is autistic and I don’t want to trigger something that isn’t enjoyable for these students,” senior Syd Hyer said. “But at the same time, I’m excited and interested in learning how these kids with disabilities do things differently as those kids with abilities. I think it will be a cool opportunity to learn how I can help.”

Her classmate, senior Olivia Telford, said that she jumped at the opportunity to help.

“It’s a really cool way for them to communicate and for me to be a part of how they learn,” she said. “I haven’t had that much of a chance to hang out with students with disabilities, but I’m friends with those who did it last year and they told me it is the greatest opportunity.”

In addition to helping with Eagle Eyes and Camera Mouse, Inkley said Jordan High students will support Jordan Valley students with holiday parties and already have planned an ice skating event together for this winter.

Jordan Valley achievement coach Clayton Reid said that through these activities, often high school students will pair up with Jordan Valley students, helping them at home with the Eagle Eyes program or just hanging out.

“They fall in love with the students, so after high school, they’ll continue to work with them at their houses or hang out and come back to attend social activities here at our school. It opens up a whole new world for both students,” he said.      

Jacob's EagleEyes

Posted by Debbie Inkley on September 14, 2015

August 31, 2015

My name is Christina Sahota and I have had the privilege of working with Opportunity of

America Foundation for the last three months.  We were recently introduced to the

EagleEyes Device via social media.  As I researched this amazing technology I

immediately applied for our 15 year old son Jacob to see if he was a possible candidate

I was very unsure if this would work for him since Jacob is cortically blind and has no

central vision due to a traumatic brain injury during birth caused by Congenital

Hydrocephalus.  Jacob is also afflicted with Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, overall

neurological delays and is nonverbal. We were told several times by different

ophthalmologists, Jacob is legally blind because he had no central vision.  However, we

were also told he may have of some slight peripheral vision based on the type of cortical

blindness he has, but since he cannot verbally communicate it was nearly impossible to

know.  This all changed the first time we connected him to an EagleEyes system.

The day we hooked Jacob up for the first time it was immediately apparent Jacob had

more vision than we realized. He immediately recognized the cause and effect

dimensions presented by the EagleEyes programs and loved the immediacy of the

musical and audio feedback.

Jacob has continued to improve his skill as his eyes get stronger and the cause and effect

theme is reinforced. To put this in perspective, nearly two years ago, Jacob suffered a

severe medical event which brought him to the brink of death. He was hospitalized over a

month and suffered a severe neurological setback. His recovery from this event has been

long and arduous but I am convinced the EagleEyes system has accelerated his recovery.

This system is not just a tool to help him improve but since it is fun and entertaining too,

Jacob actually looks forward to using it.

Jacob is so excited to be connected to the system and gets very frustrated if we take too

long to hook him up. His eyes are getting stronger and we have noticed him paying more

attention to the television, the I-pads, his environment and really showing signs of

intentional observation (I.E. he will pull his sister closer so he can see her I-pad screen).

His vision and eye strength have improved to such a degree that we were able to take

Jacob to the movies with his brother and sister for the first time in five years! I watched

him as he used his limited vision to follow the movements on the movie screen and react

to both movement and color variations (light/dark).

We are so pleased with this system and feel so incredibly lucky to have discovered it.

This system provides such incredible neurological stimulation and Jacobs’s whole team

feels we are only scratching the tip of the iceberg regarding the possibilities EagleEyes

In closing, we are so blessed to have discovered this amazing technology for our son and

are so excited what the future holds for Jacob.

Labor of Love

Posted by Debbie Inkley on September 14, 2015

Featured Story from Boston College 

Read the Original Story at The Better World Project

Labor of Love Helps Severely Disabled Communicate

How can we tell if people with severe disabilities have an active mental life? That’s a question Jim Gips has grappled with for more than 20 years. It’s a significant problem for those who lack voluntary muscular control for speech, typing, sign language or other forms of communication.

"I think these folks have a double whammy. They have a serious physical disability, but also people don't always take them seriously as human beings,” says Gips, a computer science professor atBoston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. “They look at this person in a wheelchair — who might be drooling, unable to control spittle — and they say ‘This person doesn’t have an active mental life, there's nothing going on inside.'”

Those assumptions are often incorrect. A device called EagleEyes — developed by Gips and his colleagues — proves it. By controlling a computer screen with eye movements, EagleEyes allows severely disabled people to express themselves. And it shows just how wrong first impressions can be.

“Cool” Technology Finds a Greater Purpose

The springboard for EagleEyes dates back to a 1992 lunchtime discussion between Gips and a colleague, regarding projects they’d like to tackle. “We decided it would be great to control the computer with our minds,” says Gips. Initially, he wondered if that might be possible with EEG (electroencephalography), which uses electrodes to detect the brain’s electrical activity. After visiting Boston College’s electrophysiology lab, they realized EEG wasn’t a viable option — at least, not at that time (over the years, technological advances eventually led to EEG-controlled computers).

Instead, Gips and his colleagues turned to EOG, or electrooculography. By detecting electrical signals, EOG can track eye movements. That’s possible because eyes have different charges — the cornea is positive, and the retina (located at back of the eye) is negative. For each degree of eye movement, the EOG signal changes approximately 20 microvolts. Electrodes placed temporarily on the skin around the eyes detect those signals.

Using this technology, Gips and his colleagues developed EagleEyes, which received initial funding from Boston College. EagleEyes uses the signals from eye movements to control the position of a cursor on a computer screen. They also developed software that allows users to spell out messages or play simplistic video games — all by shifting their gaze. Initially, they didn’t plan to help people with disabilities. Says Gips: “We really developed EagleEyes because we thought it was cool to control a computer through the electrodes.”

Can You Help Me?

That changed with a fortuitous turn of events. After Gips presented the device at a scientific conference, it caught the attention of national media. One day, a film crew called — it wanted to shoot a segment for national TV and wondered what Gips could do with EagleEyes beside play video games. Gips told the crew, “Well, maybe it can help children with severe disabilities.” He and his colleagues had considered that possibility, but hadn’t yet tried it.

Fortunately, Gips didn’t have to look far for someone to test it out, because Boston College has a campus school for children with profound disabilities. Gips called the school director and explained his situation, and they were able to have a disabled young woman try EagleEyes, while being recorded for national TV. “It worked — she was happy, we were happy,” says Gips. Soon after, Gips and his colleagues placed EagleEyes within a classroom at the university’s campus school for children with severe disabilities, and word spread quickly among parents. They called Gips, wanting to know if their child could try EagleEyes. And the calls weren’t just local — Gips heard from parents in England, Italy, all over the world. They had the same basic question: Can you help me?

Gips saw the overwhelming demand but lacked the resources to make EagleEyes more widely available. He talked with about a dozen entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, but kept hitting the same fundamental roadblock with potential investors. Although EagleEyes could have a huge impact on the lives of people with severe disabilities, it would never have much potential for profitability.

“This was in the early 2000s, and things reached a bit of a standstill,” says Gips. “It was difficult. How do I get the invention out of my laboratory, and into the hands of people who can use it? I couldn't really see a path through."

A Nonprofit Makes Wider Distribution Possible

In 2004, the answer came from a chance encounter. After Gips demonstrated EagleEyes at a technology conference in Boston, an attendee told him, “There’s someone you really need to talk with."

That turned out to be Debbie Inkley, executive director and founder of the nonprofit Opportunity Foundation of America (OFOA), based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

OFOA had been facilitating a job-skills training program for Discover Card to support individuals with physical, emotional and financial challenges to gain employment in the company’s U.S. call centers. But after 10 years, that program was coming to an end, and OFOA needed a new focus.

Soon after speaking at the technology conference, Gips traveled to Salt Lake City and met with Inkley and OFOA’s board. From there, things moved quickly. "Our board made the decision within a month, that we wanted this to be our new project and our only project,” says Inkley. Within just a few months of meeting Gips, OFOA signed an exclusive license agreement with Boston College in 2004 to provide manufacturing, distribution and training for EagleEyes.

Boston College did not patent the technology, says Jason Wen, Ph.D., director of the university’s Office of Technology Transfer and Licensing, who came to Boston College at the end of 2012. Instead, it initially granted a know-how license to OFOA. That meant OFOA wasn’t paying fees, but it needed to renew the license every 10 years and couldn’t make changes to the device without approval from Boston College. When the license came up for renewal in 2014, Wen decided to grant OFOA a permanent license for EagleEyes and its software system, with all the rights to further develop the technology. The process began in late September and was completed in November, and only included a minimal one-time payment from OFOA, says Wen. "Normally I could charge much more,” he says. “But we value the public good much more than any financial return.”

Gips says the technology transfer office has been very helpful. "I'm guessing they're usually more interested in projects with more commercial application, but with EagleEyes, no one is going to be making money. So it is always a labor of love,” says Gips. “It's a labor of love at the technology transfer office as well, because they wanted to see the system helping as many children as possible. They enabled that to happen.”

Cause-and-Effect Games Create a Path to Communication

Since receiving the initial license, OFOA has placed about 285 EagleEyes systems, primarily in the United States, but also in Canada and Ireland. About 60 percent of those systems are in schools and organizations, and the rest are in individuals' homes. OFOA charges $800 for EagleEyes, which is the cost to manufacture it. That makes EagleEyes an affordable option for families and schools, says Inkley. “Technologies that are similar to what we do can cost between $10,000 and $15,000,” she says.

OFOA has certified trainers who help people with severe disabilities — and their families — understand how to use EagleEyes. The first step in that process involves teaching the disabled person to play cause-and-effect games, like drawing a picture on the screen by moving their eyes. It’s vital for EagleEyes users to start with those games, so they understand that they have control over movements on the screen.

“With our users, everything has been done for them,” says Inkley, whether it’s having diapers changed or being fed through a tube." Professor Gips developed a game where you start blinking, and all of a sudden you see flashes of red and yellow, and you can modify it to be circles, stars or squares.” That may sound like a very basic game — but it’s a profound one for people who’ve had no control over their environment. "It's incredible, because the user is doing something for the very first time in their life on their own,” says Inkley. Some EagleEyes users immediately understand they are controlling the screen, and others need to try four or five time before they internalize that cause-and-effect dynamic.

From there, EagleEyes users move on to educational games, which can teach things like colors, letters, numbers and shapes. After that, they can use a communication board on the computer screen, says Inkley. “Mom and dad can ask them a very simple yes-or-no question, and they can also go to a choice board where it might say 'I want…’ and they can choose from small icons on the screen, like a favorite book, toy, or movie.”

The journey from cause-and-effect games to communication board does not take place overnight. It depends on the child, Inkley says, but the process can last nine months to a year. “It takes parents who are really committed to using the technology with them on a daily basis, because we’re talking about getting the brain stimulated,” she says. "You just don’t put the electrodes on and say, 'OK, I’ll be back in an hour.’ It takes time."

During the past decade, EagleEyes has undergone a few design improvements. The first EagleEyes system was rack-mounted — now it’s much more portable, about the size of a paperback book. EagleEyes’ basic functionality hasn’t changed much over the years, but it has created seismic shifts for the people who use it.

Gips has witnessed this first-hand. It is a life-changer, he says, not only for the children and young adults who haven't been able to express themselves, but also for their families. He remembers an uncle, who saw his 12-year-old nephew use EagleEyes for the first time. “The uncle breaks down into tears and says, ‘Wow. That's my nephew, that's my nephew.’ His entire life, he hadn't attributed there was anything going on inside."

Inkley says her organization aims to distribute 100 EagleEyes systems this year. She’s already seen dozens of life-changing moments from the systems currently in use. “Usually the statement we hear is, 'I always knew my little girl or my little boy was bright. I always knew she had an intellect,” says Inkley. "The moms and dads jump up and down and have a smile on their face.”

As exciting as those revelatory moments can be, EagleEyes’ lasting effect — forging stronger bonds through communication — is just as thrilling. "Often times, when kids have severe disabilities, they are loved but they are put in the back of the room,” says Inkley. “With EagleEyes, you can plug it into a screen, and mom and dad can be there. Brothers and sisters can be there.” This is one of the biggest benefits, she says: “It brings the family together.”

        — S.A. Swanson

Photo caption: With the assistance of a volunteer, a boy uses EagleEyes while at home.
Photo credit: The Opportunity Foundation of America

Christmas 2014 Newsletter

Posted by Debbie Inkley on January 8, 2015

Click Here to read the 2014 Christmas Newsletter

Stacey and Skyler Battle

Posted by Debbie Inkley on September 15, 2014

Andrew @ TURN (2) doc.jpgThis summer OFOA had the opportunity to work with TURN Community Services and their adult day programs. Our favorite story came from the Midvale Utah facility. 

In the picture you can see Stacey and Skyler. Skyler was an EagleEyes user and Stacey was a Camera Mouse user. We set them up side by side on different computers and let them race each other to shoot Aliens. When we told Skyler that Stacey was winning him, he suddenly stopped smiling, focused on his screen and started blasting aliens as fast as he could. 

In the end Stacey still won, and they were still friends. For that 5 minutes they were just two people playing a game against each other and enjoying the companionship of each other's company. This is a great example of the freedom that this technology can bring to so many lives. 

EagleEyes in Alaska News

Posted by Debbie Inkley on September 15, 2014

Using Her Eyes to Talk

By Garrett Turner, Reporter/Anchor, gturner(at)ktuu.com
Published On: Aug 12 2014 07:11:00 AM AKDT Original content http://m.ktuu.com/news/using-her-eyes-to-talk/27426080

Gracelyn Ward was born with a rare genetic disorder called Trisomy 18 giving her less than a 1 percent chance to live past the age of 1. She's now 17 and has found a new technology called Eagle Eye that helps her finally have a voice.

Gracelyn Ward was born with a rare genetic disorder called Trisomy 18 giving her less than a 1 percent chance to live past the age of 1. She's now 17 and has found a new technology called Eagle Eye that helps her finally have a voice.

Before Ward was even born, doctors knew she had problems.

"She was dying in-utero and they said there's a chance she can have this disorder Trisomy 18," said Ward's mother, Teresa Ward.

Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, stems from the presence of an 18th chromosome. Some 90 percent of conceptions end up in a miscarriage; of babies that are delivered, about half of them die within the first three or four days. Newborns who live beyond the first few days face a 90 percent chance of death within their first year.

Beyond that first year, there isn't any concrete data for surviving with Trisomy 18 because so few children make it -- but Gracelyn, also known as Gracie, is one of them. According to her parents she's one of about 30 Trisomy-18 teenagers in the country, but getting there hasn't been easy.

"There's been times that I have begged God to take her because she's been so sick that I couldn't stand to watch her suffer," Teresa said. "We've told her to go to heaven, and a couple of days later miraculously she's fine."

Gracie can't walk or talk and she can't hear well -- but for all the obstacles in her life, a new technology known as Eagle Eye lets her use what she can do to finally have a say in her life for the first time.

Eagle Eye, one of the latest advances in assistive technology, works by hooking up tiny electrodes to a patient's face, then responding to the movement of facial muscles as he or she looks at a screen. It only requires a split-second look for Gracie to have more control over her life, by selecting icons on the screen to form messages. The computer then speaks to match her selection.

The state Special Education Service Agency in Anchorage helped provide Gracelyn with the Eagle Eye technology. SESA's Jennifer Schroeder programs the Eagle Eye software specific to Gracie's needs.

"The way the program is set up, is you only have to dwell on something for a tenth of a second and something happens," Schroeder said.

One program uses pictures of Gracie's family. If Gracie wants to refer to a specific family member, she can kick into the program which then goes into a screen with pictures of the Wards. If she wants her mom, she moves the mouse cursor with her eyes to the correct picture and the program will then say "Mom."

"It's actually external instead of internal, but the great thing about it is Gracie can be in any position and use this," Schroeder said. "It's very sensitive and within the software itself you can change the sensitivity levels, how fast the mouse is going and the dwell time."

Eagle Eye has enhanced the school experience for Gracie. Her special education teacher, Sheryl Ross, says the software has made Gracie's school goals more easily attainable.

"The goals were to get a really definite yes and no from her to meet her needs, and  for her to be able to not only recognize what the body parts were so she could be able to tell us where she's in pain," Ross said.

Teachers say Gracie can hold a conversation at a 17-year-old level and will respond. The communicative partner has to be in tune to Gracie and meet her more than halfway.

"I think if we have a deficit or disability we're not able to communicate in one way it's our responsibility to find a better way and to enrich our kids' lives," Ross said. "It's a cliche, but if we really love our kids and love teaching, we're going to look for those avenues."

Gracie is now in her second year at Ketchikan High School for the second year in a row. The Wards had given up on school for Gracie -- but once Ross got in the picture, they found it again. After much convincing, both Craig and Teresa allowed Grace to go back to school and with Eagle Eye the world is starting to open up.

"It's made her be able to do something independently and I think in her whole life there's been very few things she could do independently," Teresa Ward said.  "She can make choices if she wants to do something or even if she doesn't want to do Eagle Eyes, that's a choice she never had before."

Most of the time, Gracie likes Eagle Eye. For most of her life, her beautiful brown eyes have searched for a way to express her wants and needs -- but now, for the first time, her eyes can do the talking.

EagleEyes for Adults in Florida

Posted by Debbie Inkley on August 7, 2014

EagleEyes System Allows People With Severe Disabilities To Use Computers

Adult EagleEyes.jpg

Original Source: http://www.lovelandcenter.org/eagle-eyes-system-allows-people-severe-disabilities-use-computers/

Advanced computer technology is opening up a new world for students at Loveland Center. Thanks to Jane Hyche from Universal Distribution in Orlando, FL, who donated the funds to purchase EagleEyes system, Loveland students with severe physical disabilities will learn computer skills to access educational opportunities by moving only their eyes.

Earlier this week, Maureen Gates, Boston College EagleEyes – Camera Mouse Specialist trained Loveland staff and students to use ‘Eagle Eyes’ and Camera Mouse.

“We are thrilled to offer this new system for our students,” said Madeline McGrail, Loveland Center’s ADT Program Manager. “EagleEyes will help students communicate, develop skills, and learn through access to never before available technologies.”

This unique electronic device slightly bigger than a video game controller, allows people to control the computer by moving only their eyes, through five electrodes placed on the person’s forehead, and around the eyes.

When the surface electrodes are placed, they track the muscle movements of the face and send the signals received from the electrodes back into the electronic controller box and the computer, transforming his eyes into a computer mouse. By focusing for a few seconds on the same spot or object on the computer screen, a single click is activated.

Loveland students, Barbara, Matthew and Erin were the first ones to try Camera Mouse and were eager and excited to participate. The Camera Mouse allows people to control the computer by moving their head, eye, lip, nose or any other part of their head they are able to control. It works through a video camera or web camera connected to the computer and focused upon the student

Matthew was especially excited to play games and see the results of his head movements such as chasing aliens.

Both access technologies function as standard mouse replacements in Windows systems.

The technology was developed at Boston College in 1994, and the Opportunity Foundation of America has distributed the systems nationwide.

“Seeing the twinkle in the eyes of our students and the smile on the faces of family and staff is indescribable,” said McGrail.

Eye Gaze mouse for computer.jpg

Eye controlled mouse.jpg

assistive technology EagleEyes.jpg




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