Technology @ High Point, vol. 25
Tech for teaching and learning in our new space
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This Week's Tech Feature:
Skyle for Windows
The Skyle for Windows eye gaze bar can be connected to the classroom desktops for student use. We have been waiting to install these eye gaze devices until the new large, touch screen monitors are installed in the classrooms because we didn't want to reinstall them when the new monitors arrived, but since it is taking time to get them installed, we can use the desk mount instead of adhesive on the monitor. See below for how to set this up.
Here is a video to show you how to get started:
The Skyle is great to use to practice honing eye gaze skills to use with AAC devices. It is always good to learn the access method separate (not first, just separate) from the AAC device to reduce the mental load on learning new skills. It is difficult for a student to learn both an AAC language and an access method at the same time.
The Skyle comes with several programs developed for use with eye gaze:
Attention & Looking
assesses and teaches skills related to tracking, fixating and locating
Exploring & Playing
assesses and teaches skills related to turn taking, exploring and choosing items
Choosing & Learning
assesses and teaches skills related to making preferred choices, making linear choices and making multiple choices (which is very similar to scanning in AAC)
Exploring & Playing
Who is it for?
Skyle for Windows can be used with many children and adults with conditions such as:
- Physical Difficulties
- Communication Difficulties
- Intellectual Disabilities
- ALS and Multiple Sclerosis
- Cerebral Palsy and Rett Syndrome
- Autistic Spectrum Disorder
- Cortical Visual Impairment (yes, there has been success using eye gaze with CVI students)
We generally don't use eye gaze technology if a student has another reliable means of accessing technology, for example if they are able to use a joystick or head tracking technologies. Eye gaze is a high tech device and, like many high tech devices, it can have technical problems that can be very frustrating. It requires calibration and precise setup. It doesn't work well in bright sunlight or sometimes even in fluorescent lights. Occasionally, eye glasses will interfere with the light beams reflecting off the student's eyes. In an attempt to reduce student and caregiver frustration and abandonment, it is good practice to rule out lower tech solutions before landing on eye gaze for computer and AAC access.
Skyle should not be used with students who have photosensitive epilepsy as the Skyle (and most eye gaze devices) use pulsing infrared lights that may induce seizures in these students. Occasionally, eye glasses will interfere with the functioning of the device. Sunlight and fluorescent lights may interfere with the infrared signal and cause reduced reliability.
Position: The Skyle eye gaze bar should be positioned below the monitor. See below for 2 mounting options. Use the EyeMouse program to show you if the student's eyes are within the camera's view. Ideally, you would calibrate each time the student uses the device, but you don't need to if it is difficult for the student. Do not place any items between the eye gaze bar and the user as it can interfere with the camera's ability to see the user's eyes. When helping a student use the Skyle, be sure your eyes are not within view of the cameras as they could pick up your gaze instead of the student's, which is very frustrating for the student.
There is adhesive to connect the magnetic strip to the monitor that will hold the eye gaze bar on the bottom edge of the monitor. This will be a good setup on the final monitor in the classroom.
There are also two 3D printed parts that can prop the eye gaze bar up sitting on the desk under the monitor. Use this while you have a temporary monitor.
Installed on a Monitor
Here the eye gaze bar is installed below the monitor.
Useful keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + Shift + P will pause eye gaze in this program so your student can take a break. They can pause with their eyes, but sometimes using the software gets frustrating and you may want to force it to pause without the student's help.
The Skyle is not waterproof. It can be wiped down with Clorox wipes to clean, but do not allow liquids to enter any of the holes on the device. Be sure the front, glossy screen of the device is kept clean and clear of debris to optimize functioning of the cameras.
The Skyle runs on power from the USB jack. It will not work if it is not plugged in to the USB jack.
The Skyle is intended to operate at temperatures between 32 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. If it has been sitting in higher or lower temperatures, allow the device to return to those temperatures before using.
Ideas for Using This Tech in the Classroom
A nice feature of the CoughDrop AAC App is that it can be accessed online. You can pull up a student's CoughDrop page on a computer and use eye gaze to access it. Use the F11 button on your keyboard to force the site to be full-screen and avoid accidental activations on the screen with new eye gaze users. F11 again will get you out of full-screen.
In the EyeGaze Attention & Looking program there is a game called "Who's Different?". Students have to find the symbol that is different from the others and gaze at that symbol or character to select it. If they don't choose one, it will animate to catch the student's attention. This is a great, simple program to get students to choose from an array of items.