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New Technology- Eye Tracking on Tablet

By:  Amy Roman, CCC-SLP

 

Last month I provided a webinar entitled “Keeping Tablets Accessible While Living with ALS”.  The webinar explored many ways to use a tablet (and computers) with limited or no hand movement.  I have received quite a few requests for the “Eye Tracking on a Tablet” video included in the webinar …so here it is.

 

Eye tracking is a great option for people who have very limited mobility but want to continue to use their computer or tablet.  In particular, the Gaze Interaction Toolbar demonstrated in this video made it easy to use my eyes for scrolling, clicking and typing.  This technology is available on standard computers, tablets and speech generating devices.

To determine which eye tracker best meets your needs you should try more than one.   A speech therapist or assistive technology specialist can provide trials with products from different manufacturers.  These professionals offer non-biased assistance in determining the best system for you.  They will also let you know if another access method might be more suitable than eye tracking.

Insurance coverage is available for some eye trackers.  The Veterans Administration has the most progressive policy for funding eye tracking technology.  The VA often covers equipment that allows you to control elements in your environment like lights, fans, door openers, as well as access to computers.  Other insurance, like Medicare and Medicaid will cover eye tracking only if it is necessary to operate a speech generating device.

Your local ALS Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association or ALS clinic can help you find a professional to help you learn about eye tracking, other access methods, and augmentative communication.   These specialists will guide you through the insurance process. Some may even work with lending libraries which offer these systems for extended trials or for people with limited insurance coverage (like those on hospice).

3 Comments
  1. What are your favorite eye trackers and laptop to go with it?
    Thx!
    Donna

    • Hi Donna,
      It depends on what you are using eye tracking and the tablet for. I don’t know much about using them for gaming but in terms of computer access and communication, I have most frequently worked with the Tobii/Dynavox PC Eye models. My clients typically pair them with a Windows Surface tablets but we have had good success with less expensive Windows tablets too. Though I have seen excellent results with these off-the-shelf combination, I do recommend having an AAC or assistive technology specialist help with the set up and customization. I get many calls from families who tried to put it together themselves and have been frustrated. Often people don’t realize they need to order communication software or a mounting system that positions the devices properly to respond to eye movement. They may also need assistance with positioning, settings, and the layout of items on the screen. With the right support though they have almost all benefited enormously from the technology.

      If you are looking at eye tracking on speech generating devices, then you definitely want to try 2 to 4 brands to determine which responds best to your eyes and meets more of your needs. After trials with various eye trackers for both communicating and navigating the web, most clients typically have a clear preference. The favorites end up being divided up fairly equally among the brands. The technology used by each company is different enough that some folks can only target accurately with one or two brands and struggle or can’t use another brand. A speech therapist will provide you with trials. A few of my favorite models of speech generating devices with eye tracking capabilities include TTMT’s Zuvos, Forbes AAC’s Winslates, Tobii’s I-Series, PRC’s Accents, and LC Technology devices. Without trials there is no way to guess which model will work best for you.

      I hope that was helpful. If you need assistance finding a speech therapist who has experience with eye tracking speech devices, contact your local ALS Association or MDA.
      Amy

  2. Hi! We had a FaceTime meeting/ demo this morning by VisuALS. It is awesome!! Have you seen it yet? All put together… Similar to what u described….$2800.
    :). Donna

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