Imagine yourself strapped to a chair with your mouth taped shut. You know what you are thinking, but you can not communicate with the world around you. I had many devices over the years that popped my bubble of silence.
In Pre-K, the hunt of finding me a voice started. We looked left to right for a communication device. The school system finally got me a device that opened my world, the DynaVox. I was using two head switches method to access it. One switch would scan the rows or columns, while the other was the selection. In spite of the fact that I was using a very basic page with only a couple of buttons, I could finally tell the world what I was thinking.
Although the two head switches finally gave me a voice of my very own, it was very labor intensive. When the technology caught up with itself, the eyegaze for the DynaVox was invented right at the end of my elementary years. There was a camera at the bottom that picked up my retina in my eye. When I looked at a button and blinked, it clicked just like a computer mouse. By decreasing the time that it took me to form sentences, the eyegaze made my language skills blossom. Since DynaVox was a regular window base computer, a whole new world opened up for me. I could then text, email, surf the web, art, do my school assignments, and more.
When the company for DynaVox changed their eye-gaze product, it was so much harder for me to use. While exploring different options when I was in Jr. High. we found the Tobii. These devices were similar in how they operated with some exceptions. I had to learn another language system. The Tobii also came with loud speakers to let me jam out to my music. Another improvement was having a front and rear camera allowing me to have one more thing that I could do independently.
When I used up all of the capacity of the Tobii, I research what my next step in the technology world was. I based my search on finding an eyegaze that was able to connect to a regular tablet or laptop. I finally ran across Tobii's eye mobile during my senior year. The new eyegaze device could connect to a Microsoft surface with a single USB. This allowed me to have a faster processor with apps while using my existing language software.
With this door wide-opened, now I look to the future. I know research is underway that takes assistive technology to the next level. I welcome all new advances to personal empowerment.
Written for https://communicationcircles.com/