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).