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Innovative IT system clicks for Ulster pupils

eagleeyes project

By Kathryn Torney
Belfast Telegraph 30 March 2004

PUPILS in special schools across Northern Ireland will benefit from an innovative IT system specially developed for children who are non-verbal and severely physically disabled.

Education Minister Jane Kennedy launched the CameraMouse system at Parkview School in Lisburn yesterday.

CameraMouse, which was funded by £200,000 from Executive Programme Funds, was originally developed at Boston College in Massachusetts and is the first system of its kind.

It enables children to move the computer cursor using movement of their eyes or any other part of the body over which they have voluntary control.

The project will be available in 22 special schools for children with severe learning difficulty and four schools for children with physical disability.

Ms Kennedy said: "This system opens up access to the same hi-tech opportunities for children in special schools that are available, and taken for granted today, in all mainstream schools.

"CameraMouse is a valuable resource, not just for education but also for communication, enabling children with severe special needs to communicate, in some cases for the first time, between themselves and with their peers.

"CameraMouse is a practical and imaginative example of our commitment to meeting the needs of children with special needs and is the result of the Department working in partnership with the boards and the schools themselves."

During her visit, the Minister also presented the children with a certificate to mark their achievements.