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EagleEyes in Utah

EagleEyes Winter 2008 Newsletter

The following was written by Sue Hirase, a consultant for the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind.
If you had entered Jordan Valley School in Midvale, Utah on September 29th, you would have seen a room full of special educators with blue electrodes on their faces trying to navigate the EagleEyes speech technology for severely multiple disabled children. You may have wondered, “What in the world are they doing?” Well, I can tell you. I had the privilege to be one of these educators and I would like to share my experience with you.

I am a consultant for the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind who works with families and teachers of students who face challenges in trying to find a way for their loved ones and students to communicate and express themselves without typical speech and language. Often these students have no controllable movement other than eye gaze or slight head control. EagleEyes allows these students to communicate with individuals in their environment. Although the program may take several tries to determine if it is appropriate for a specific student, doing so may provide the only experience the families of these individuals have to interact with them.
One father cheered as his daughter began to use the cursor to play the “Shoot the Aliens” game. At the same time, another family gathered around the computer to offer encouragement and instruction as their son and brother colored a picture of his own design.
Although every student may not be successful using  EagleEyes, watching a mother cry because her son is finally given the opportunity to respond on his own is well worth all the hard work and effort required to produce such a response and fill such a need. I am eternally grateful for our sponsors, the Rodrick Earl Ross Foundation and the OFOA, for their hours of service to provide this experience to the deaf-blind children in the state of Utah.

jordan valley, jake

Willy, Linda

oakridge, kelly