PMLD Eyegaze Project at Trinity Fields School.

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Right, this is a simple outline of what to do in school! (last updated July 2015)

Stage One:


Buy One! Or hire it! Get an eye gaze system! (See the description on the main page on our set up)
They are getting cheaper and cheaper (£590 or less!) and the benefits and possibilities are endless. If you have PMLD and SLD pupils in your school then just get one. You've got keyboard access, mouse access, switch access for 80% of your school population- what about the other 20%- how will you ever know what they are capable of if you don't try? Don't be put off by the cutting edge technology- the systems are very easy to use- for you and your pupils. There are companies out there that will do workshops and trials- the tip to getting funds released is to invite the headteacher to watch!
Don't forget though the extra cost- you will need a good monitor stand like the Rehadapt's ones so you can move the screen up and down, left and right according to the needs of the child who is using it. These cost around £650- or a laptop. You can use a normal PC screen attached onto this but much better is a 'all in one' computer which has the workings inside the screen- then there's just one plug to plug in and it's very mobile. You can also get tablet versions, but these can be a little small on the screen size- so the screen will possibly add around £400-£500. You'll also need software- easier to use some of the specially written eyegaze software described on the main page but you can use Helpkidzlearn or some free programs.
Then get your staff to use it- let them have a play with it, put it in the staff room for a few lunchtimes- the wow factor will get them interested- then do some informal training sessions after school or during INSET days.

Stage Two:


Try It! Get pupils in front of it to see what happens! Learn how to use it yourself!
Simple as that- look at the list on the main page and try sensory programs, cause and effect programs, put some family photos up and see what the pupils look at. Put up a keyboard and let them play the piano, put up Jackson Pollock and let them create an artwork all on their own for a change!. Don't wait for Speech and Language, AAC assessments or someone else to do it- just get them in front of it and see what they can do- the pupils will surprise you and they will pick it up quickly, I promise. This is also the time to work out the best screen position for the pupil- see the recording sheet on this site. We've taken photos of the best position and put those on the pupil's eyegaze record sheet so staff know where to place the child and the screen.

Stage Three:


Personalise it.
The key to special needs education and the eye gaze is no different. This stage will take quite a lot of time and effort but is very important. Once you've found out what they like, let them access it more, get more programs like it, expand what they like, get them tracking, clicking, choosing, selecting. Talk them through stories, use switch programs, pop balloons. Set up a front page for them to choose which activity they want to do (this doesn't have to be difficult- put two photos on a powerpoint page- you'll see what they are choosing or use something like Choose it Maker 3). Let them choose snacks, drinks, music tracks, get them joining in lessons, get support staff using it, teachers using it, let them access it in music lessons. This is the stage to calibrate and fine tune the pupils' settings as well.
They might not move onto complex AAC programs or formal choice making, it doesn't matter, they'll find a level that works for them with your help.

Stage Four:


Embed it.
By now the pupil will have a way of interacting with the world around them at a level that they are comfortable with, all by themselves and their physical difficulties won't be holding them back. Set personal targets, integrate these into their IEP's and classroom practice and try and help the pupil meet them.
The aim here is also to get staff confident in its use with that pupil- so it embeds into the everyday routine- so training is key too. Perhaps some pupils will end up with a personal device too that they can use at home.
Priceless.

Project Information:


We have done our 2015 PIVATS assessments and teachers have also been marking down which levels pupils have achieved using the eyegaze. One pupil has gone from P2ii to P4 this year and 70% of this rise has been due to her eyegaze use.

Since April 2013 at Trinity Fields we have assessed all 21 pupils using the form below. We now know what they like, where to put the screen, what level they are at and what the general targets are. Most pupils on the project now have eyegaze targets in their IEP's although much further work needs to be done to increase the day to day use of eyegaze in as many contexts as possible throughout the day.

A teacher, Anthony Rhys, is monitoring the project working alongside two TA's who have been using the eyegaze for over two years and are given release time to support pupils and classes. We have a supply staff for two days a week to backfill them for this work funded by the School Effectiveness Grant from the Welsh Government to increase literacy access for 12 named pupils for 2013-2015.

This is the form we are using for our assessments and to record work, it's like an essential info sheet for the eyegaze for the class team and specialists to refer to and outlines positioning, liked programs, how pupils show engagement etc. Click the link below.



We identified these initial 21 pupils mainly by their low levels of physical ability, they are mainly PMLD pupils working around P2-P4. Some are switch users, some have only slight finger movement, some are more mobile but could possibly benefit from the eyegaze augmenting their access. We try them on the eyegaze, see if it works for them and then think about the next step. Four pupils were taken off the project in July 2014 as they are either focusing better on other communication methods or their visual impairment has now been assessed as too severe to make eyegaze viable. Then another three of our new intake were added in September 2014!

Currently the project is tailoring resources for individual pupils (downloading videos and photographs and setting up Choose it Maker 3 pages for example) and supporting class teams to use the eyegaze units in class confidently and in an informed way. Classes are also incorporating eyegaze targets into the pupils' IEPs and integrating the technology into the day to day class activities- e.g. registration and group lessons.

For some pupils it is the start of them developing it as a formal communication tool, others will use it for sensory and exploration work.

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We are also trying to:

Calibrate pupils as we go along where possible. This will enable more precise control.
Fine tune the positioning of the equipment.
In a few cases work out which eye to track, as three pupils have disconjugate nystagmus where the two eyes often move independently of each other- we are working closely with our Visual Impairment service to work out the best way of tracking this! The VI service are also using their sessions to work with pupils on the eyegaze as well.
As staff confidence increases so does the opportunities for pupils using the system. Our six eyegaze units are now strategically placed in classes to meet the day to day needs of our pupils- if other pupils are using it then one of them is just wheeled out to the pupil! We are also moving onto environmental controls though the eyegaze and have a My World on order from Smartbox AT.

We are also getting used to what software is eyegaze friendly (and which ones to avoid) and getting as wide a range of programs to use as possible as we have such a wide range of users.

We are now funding an exciting new project using Tobii Gaze Viewer. See the link on the previous page and here. The aim is to assess the cognitive abilities of pupils at school. We have funding for a teacher to run the project alongside the class teacher in each class.

Updated July 2015.

This work was also written up for a Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership and Management in Education which just got a Distinction.