The AT Department at Easterseals is involved in action research in the field of eye gaze technology for young children. In November, the Easterseals AT Department hosted Dr. Maria Borgestig from Linkoping University in Sweden and Dr. Namrata Grampurohit of Thomas Jefferson University to develop our collaboration on research into eye gaze technology for young children. Dr. Borgestig guided the Easterseals AT Team in the implementation of several standardized measurements, and we shared the results of our own Easterseals eye gaze study, which is now in its third year. Dr. Grampurohit is collaborating with us in obtaining IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval for our study through Jefferson and our collaboration with the Swedish study. Currently, three children are enrolled in the Swedish study and seven children are enrolled in the Easterseals study. This is unfunded research which we are completing to help us make the best decisions possible about our children.
From left: Joy McGowan, Director of Augmentative Communication; Dr. Maria Borgestig of Linkoping University, Sweden; Sandy Masayko, Director of AT; Laurie G. McGowan, AT Specialist
From presenting sessions to volunteering and networking, Easterseals of SEPA was an active presence at the Assistive Technology Industry Association Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida at the beginning of February.
Joy McGowan, Melissa Spada and Sandy Masayko presented “Eye Gaze Technology: Supporting Preschoolers in Participation, Play and Communication” to a standing-room-only crowd of over 60 people. The audience asked many questions and shared some of their experiences with the technology as well. Laurie McGowan joined Susan Tachau of the PA AT Foundation and Kirby Smith of SunKirb to share “Smart Home Technology” to a group that included technicians who install this kind of technology as well as therapists and consumers. Using easily acquired commercial devices has revolutionized home adaptations and has decreased costs significantly. The presentation was well received.
As a volunteer, Marcia Leinweber assisted presenters in setting up their sessions and attendees in finding the workshops that they wanted to attend. Sandy and Marcia also attended a workshop to develop the AT program at Easterseals.
Melissa Spada participated in a workshop where she learned to make adapted toys from low cost materials and picture symbols. She even won a sample toy to bring back to Easterseals!
Networking was an important part of the conference too. Our team caught up with Mary Elizabeth McCulloch of Project Vive, who shared her latest prototype of a low-cost speech-generating device. Mary Elizabeth will be visiting Easterseals soon to explore some new switches and to pick up some of our adapted cars that need repair and additional adaptations. Sandy visited with Lori Binko of LessonPix to hear about her experience of introducing adapted ride-on cars into her inclusive preschool class. Easterseals of SEPA actually purchased one of the cars for her program several years ago for engineering students at University of Florida to use as a prototype when the students coached us on adapting the ride on cars. We donated the completed car to Lori’s program, and it was gratifying to learn how the use of the cars increased her students’ abilities to move, socialize and develop cognitive skills.
Lori Binko of Lesson Pix with an adapted car that was funded by Easterseals
Melissa Spade with an adapted toy made from common materials and communication pictures
AT@ATIA From Left: Melissa Spade, Speech Pathologist; Laurie G. McGowan, AT Specialist; Sandy Masayko, Director of AT; Joy S. McGowan, Director of Augmentative Communication; Marcia Leinweber, AT Specialist