Communicating in the blink of an eye, Leigh’s amazing journey
Back in 2009 Leigh embarked on a journey with communication aids. He began by purchasing an EyeMax communication aid which it was said would give individuals with speech and language disabilities the ability to communicate in the blink of an eye.
Having received initial one to one training Leigh had the device set up on his wheelchair and developed his knowledge of and skills with use of the device. As he got more familiar with it support workers also received one to one training and joined Leigh in communicating in structured settings.
Vocabulary and photographs have had to be installed on the device and the team have worked closely with Leigh with Leigh to improve his range of vocabulary and the range of situations in which he feels happy to use it.
Calibrated to his right eye only the device takes a great deal of precision to set up, particularly as Leigh uses two different wheelchairs. To make sure it is always done correctly the team have built up a comprehensive guide that is used by all members of the support team. Leigh has also been supported to use the device with more success with the input of therapy sessions helping him to keep his head still and just move his eyes. Leigh’s hit rate on getting the right word or image to convey his thoughts is improving all the time but when it doesn’t quite mirror his thoughts he and his team have established expressions Leigh will use to confirm or retract the message.
There are times when Leigh still prefers to communicate responding to yes/no questions and the team happily support according to Leigh’s preference. However, the team are constantly updating the device with words, adding names of people Leigh meets, experiences he has had and photos of places he has been, so he can communicate about every aspect of his life as fully as possible.
Technology has moved fast, even in this area and so more recently Leigh has switched devices after trialling a few opting for the Tobii I15 and Grid 3 software. Its again proved to be well suited to Leigh’s needs and with new mounts for each environment and seated position Leigh is finding he uses it more frequently.
Therapy is now focussed on supported Leigh to use the large number of pages of vocabulary more independently and to move between words, names, photos and phrases to enable him to initiate conversation with a wider range of people in an ever-expanding number of environments. Importantly it is providing the opportunity for Leigh to express his preferences, make choices and share his opinion and really begin to engage with others in how he would like to live his life and receive support.
The opportunity for dialogue is endless and has proven to be the most amazing tool many of the team and Leigh has ever seen. It can and does open so many doors for Leigh, which has been evidenced by his increasing happiness and confidence.
At the start of 2018 Leigh has found such confidence in his communication skills with the device that he is now taking it with him to a wide variety settings.