Using Eyegaze Technology with pupils with PMLD and SLD in a Special School.

Pupil with PMLD using sensory eyegaze program.

Return to the Gesture Based Technology Homepage.

This site is an information resource for schools using eyegaze technology to enable pupils with permanent and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and severe learning disabilities (SLD) interact meaningfully with their environment. These pupils would be generally working on a pre-communicative level and so not (yet) at the level of using the eyegaze as an AAC or as part of formal speech and language therapy. The wiki is teacher led and is not involved financially with any particular company.

Currently at Trinity Fields School in Ystrad Mynach we have six eyegaze units. The pupils we are targeting are mainly P2-P5 pupils with SLD and PMLD, 20 pupils are identified users from our school population of 130 (15% of cohort). We fund extra staffing for our eye gaze and eyetracking projects through the School Effectiveness Grant and the Pupil Deprivation Grant from the Welsh Government.

To read more about the Eyegaze project at Trinity Fields click here. This is a practical guide to implementing eyegaze technology in school- based on how we have done it in Trinity Fields School over the last three years.

To read more about the Eyetracking cognition and receptive language project at Trinity Fields click here. This uses eyetracking software to better understand pupils cognitive abilities and their needs.

Inclusive Technology have just brought out this guide document to using eyegaze in schools. . Though check this wiki for other resources from other avenues as it is very heavily a catalogue for Inclusive products and misses some very important software and information.

This is the form we use for our PMLD eyegaze assessments and work in our special needs school: .

Watch this short video- which stars the pupils of Trinity Fields School (and me!) and explains the importance of eyegaze as an access method.

What can eye-gaze technology do?

Anything you want it to really as it is just an input device- what the pupils do is up to you! The current focus in our school is on making it the default access device for those with severe physical needs (PMLD) who can't access other methods or find other methods really difficult. As a general guide we are following the Tobii eyegaze learning curve, more information can be found here.

This really handy document from Matt Daly at Royal College Manchester gives a linear progression structure to early eye gaze use linked to the P scales. A good article looking at the importance of starting by just 'exploring' eye-gaze can be found here.

This work is part of an ongoing Professional Learning Community into using gesture based technology with pupils with PMLD and SLD.

Eyegaze Units

You need an eyegaze tracker to attach to your PC's to enable eyegaze interaction. There are now quite a few models on the market, we have been using Tobii PCEyeGo units, which are currently around £1,750 each and use one USB port to work. They work very well.
We have also been using the new PCEyeExplore units from Tobii which retail for £590- which is an amazing reduction in price. They 'just' do mouse tracking and clicking so are very suitable for your early eyegaze users- though they do need a USB3 port to work (ones with the little blue colour tongue!). Now they are so cheap we have been able to purchase one for a pupil through our LAC grant (the family bought the PC to run it) and a few parents are looking into purchasing them or putting in charity bids to buy them.
Tobii PCEye Explore unit
EyeTribe unit

There are other eyegaze units on the market, Inclusive Technology do the MyGaze unit for £875.

Simon Evans at the great SENTeacher website has put together this quick guide to the newer, low cost eyegaze devices on the market now. There are pro's and cons to each of them and the MyTribe eyegaze unit is no longer available as they've been bought out.

What you do need to consider as a school when buying eyegaze devices is where you are going to mount it- if you are using them with pupils using a wheelchair they ideally need to be on an adjustable mount such as the Rehadapt Floor Stand (£700)- then you can get low for the little pupils and high for the older ones and get it under wheelchairs or desks! A mobile PC helps too- one which is just the screen and a plug. The photo below is our current set up- a Tobii PCEyeGo mounted on a Lenovo all in one PC with a mobile keyboard with track-pad on a Rehadapt Floor Stand and a rubber duckie too. Mobile and nifty! Click here for information on how to use these units in school.
You can however easily use eyegaze units with laptops- as long as you can get it to the right height for the pupil- say with a height adjustable table.

eyegaze PMLD trinity fields.jpg

Recording and Assessing Eye Tracking

Taking good video evidence of a pupil using eyegaze is always tricky. These programs record what is happening on the screen in real time so you can have evidence and assess what pupils have been doing.
They do this by recording 'Heatmaps' of the screen where pupils have looked the most- or by 'Gaze Plots' which records the sequence of where a pupil looked and for how long. A great tool.
It does this for any program that you want as it records in the background. Why is this useful? Well- you can now record and save eyegaze sessions as they happen- no need to record the screen externally. Then you can replay what the pupil has been doing and looking at later and use it for recording and assessment.
The program does not have to be used for eyegaze users only but will record what anyone is looking at on the screen. So ever wondered what a pupil is really looking at when they watch a video over and over again? Now you can find out. Wonder if a pupil is looking at faces when they see photos of their friends and family? Now you can find out.
At Trinity Fields we are using it to assess the cognitive ability and understanding of autistic and PMLD pupils through a variety of means.
An example video is here:

These are the two main programs I'm aware of:

Tobii Gaze Viewer (Now £320 for full use.)

The program offers phenomenal scope for assessing our pupils cognitive abilities- though take note it only works with Tobii eyegaze devices. Really easy to use as well with a simple menu. All our eyegaze devices save the recordings to a central Dropbox account for retrieval and sharing.

Ogama (Free)

This free program called Ogama also does heat maps and gaze plots- Ogama stands for Open Gaze and Mouse Analysis,

It doesn't work with Tobii trackers unfortunately- so I've not used it yet.

Eyegaze Websites: Information on some great eyegaze friendly websites.

A list of good eyegaze compatible websites.

Eyegaze Programs: Information on some great eyegaze programs.
You'll need some software to use the eyegaze with and there is now a good selection of tailor made eyegaze programs on the market.