by Susan Berkowitz
Kindergarten – 8th Grade
For students who have no other way to access AAC, eye gaze is often the answer. Eye gaze can be high or low tech. E-tran boards and paper-based systems use clear acrylic or plain paper and use the borders and corners of the page, with the central space cut out or clear, so that the partner can see where the individual’s eyes are looking.
Eye gaze can be difficult for students to learn, as the learning curve can initially be steep and the process can be fatiguing.
We often make the mistake of giving students an AAC system with eye gaze technology and going straight to using communication pages – or trying to!
But there is a steep learning curve; and students often need to move through exploring eye gaze with limited purpose, through learning cause and effect, through targeting a specific item in a field, and into turn taking, choosing, and learning to use symbol grids and/or keyboards.
Did you know that almost 90% of learning is through vision? That almost 70% of student with cerebral palsy have either refraction errors or other vision impairments – particularly cortical vision impairment? That most vision impairments go undetected?
For students for whom the physical effort of using a high tech eye gaze system is too overwhelming, simple eye gaze activities can be a strategy for gaining communication without the effort of using more complex eye gaze or hitting a switch.
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