In November 2016, Joy S. McGowan, Sandy Masayko, and Melissa Spada presented a seminar on “Developing Communication in Young Children Using Eye-Gaze Technology” at the national convention of the America Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Philadelphia. The presentation was accepted for the conference after competitive peer review.
Easter Seals of SEPA provides the Assistive Technology resources and support to evaluate and implement eye tracking technology for communication for children who have limited speech production and motor difficulties. Our Easter Seals team presented training guidelines to determine candidacy for successful use of an eye-tracking system.
by Sandy Masayko, Director of Assistive Technology at Easter Seals of SE PA
During my recent trip to Australia, I was delighted to meet with therapists who are providing Assistive Technology (AT) and Augmentative /Alternative Communication (AAC) services in Melbourne. On September 1, Anne Williams, of the Occupational Therapy Department at Swinburne University of Technology, arranged for me to meet with occupational therapists and speech/language pathologists from ComTEC. ComTEC is a division of Yooralla, a provider of services for people with disabilities in Melbourne. As we talked, we discovered that share many similar concerns in providing AT and AAC services and devices, including funding, planning instruction and problem solving with families and caregivers. Anne also invited faculty members from Swinburne in the areas of Occupational Therapy, Robotics and Biomedical Engineering to learn about the work we are doing in eye gaze technology with young children.
The following day, September 2, I made a short presentation to occupational therapists at the Vic-Tas (Victoria and Tasmania) Regional Conference of Occupational Therapy in Melbourne. The paper, focusing on factors related to use of eye gaze technology with young children, was well received. Attendees asked many questions. I was very interested to learn about issues being addressed by occupational therapists in Australia. The emphasis in many presentations was on self-reflective practice, engaging consumers and promoting participation for people with disabilities.
Pictured in the photo, Anne Williams on the left and Sandy Masayko on the right at the Vic-Tas Regional Conference of Occupational Therapy in Melbourne.
Assistive Technology Specialist Laurie G. McGowan and AT Director Sandy Masayko participated in the Assistive Technology Industry Conference in Orlando in early February. Laurie devoted two days to a special workshop, iPad Bootcamp, to develop skills in adapting iPads for access, new uses and communication. In the larger conference she focused on workshops addressing assistive technology in early childhood and in adapting play. Sandy concentrated on workshops that addressed implementing eye gaze technology with children and providing effective professional development. In addition to the formal presentations, Laurie and Sandy were able to exchange ideas with other practitioners from all over the country in an informal EduCamp that was set up as a series of roundtable discussions. Sandy and Laurie will be implementing the new ideas in the coming year at Easter Seals.
It can be something as simple as a switch that activates a child’s toy, or something much more complex. Our Assistive Technology team finds incredible ways to help people with disabilities engage in their communities and do typical things….like check out Facebook.
Check out this video of how eye gaze software works!
Kids being kids. Sometimes it’s not always so simple. So helping children find their voices, the ability to play and engaging with with their friends and families is what we work for. Together, with families, we find ways to help the children we serve to shine. There are so many amazing children that reward us with their smiles and charm every day. JJ is is one of those stars! We are so pleased to have JJ as an Honorary Ambassador for Walk With Me this year.
When asked to describe JJ, his mom summed it up by saying that he’s a rock star. This very social five-year-old has PVL, cerebral palsy and vision impairment. JJ has tremendous inner strength and we have to believe so much of it comes from his parents, big sister, twin brother and huge extended family. When he was ready for center-based services, he also became part of the Easter Seals family. Since he began at Easter Seals, JJ has come out of his shell even more, his motivation is increased, his words have increased and he is holding his head up better. In addition to his increased words, he will soon be using an eye gazing device to really help him find his voice. When he’s not amazing his teachers, he’s quite happy rough housing with his brother, playing catch, looking at Elmo books, strumming a guitar or even better, enjoying a bowl of ice cream. JJ certainly knows how to enjoy the finer things in life and we can’t wait to see what he does next!