Increasing participation in computer activities using eye-gaze assistive technology for children with complex needs

Yu Hsin Hsieh*, Mats Granlund, Samuel L. Odom, Ai Wen Hwang, Helena Hemmingsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Eye-gaze assistive technology offers children with severe motor and communication difficulties the opportunity to access and control a computer through eye movements. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of eye-gaze assistive technology intervention on participation in computer activities and technology usability among children with complex needs in Taiwan. Materials and methods: This study involved a multiple baseline design across individuals. The participants were four children aged three to six years with severe motor and communication difficulties and low eye-control skills. The six-month intervention consisted of two collaborative team meetings and 12 individual supports to facilitate the use of eye-gaze assistive technology at home or in educational environments. Participation in computer activities (diversity, frequency, and duration) was repeatedly measured through a computer use diary. Other outcomes included assessments of goal achievements and parents/teachers’ ratings on children’s performance in computer activities. Results: The young children increased the diversity of their computer activities and their frequency and duration of computer use from baseline to the intervention phase. The children attained six of eight predefined goals related to play, communication, and school learning. Parents and teachers perceived the children’s changes in performance as meaningful. Conclusion: This study strengthens the evidence that eye-gaze assistive technology is useful in everyday contexts for children with complex needs in Taiwan. The findings add knowledge that children with weak eye-control skills increased participation in computer activities as a result of the eye-gaze assistive technology. Implications for Rehabilitation Eye-gaze assistive technology (EGAT) as an access method to control a computer can provide opportunities for children with severe motor and communication difficulties to participate in computer activities. Children with severe motor and communication difficulties and low eye-control skills with sufficient practice can learn to use EGAT for communication and learning, with support from stakeholders and collaborative service. EGAT could be introduced for children with complex needs at early ages as a means of using computers for play, communication, and school learning, which could be helpful for later education and learning. Stakeholders in educational environments could include EGAT in educational computer systems so that pupils with severe motor and communication difficulties could interact with a computer, thereby enhancing their engagement and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-505
Number of pages14
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Communication
  • computer usage
  • eye-gaze controlled computer
  • learning
  • participation
  • play
  • severe motor and speech impairments

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