Gwendolyn Tests Tobii and an Act of Kindness Leaves Us SpeechlessJune 03, 2011 by Victoria Strong
We are speechless. Completely without words. Doors are opening for our little girl and because of an incredible act of kindness, they are opening even faster.
Yesterday we had a trial for the Tobii Eye Gaze Communication Device. This "computer" is able to detect and follow Gwendolyn's eyes and how she moves them. Using her eyes she is able to scan and pause over an image on the computer screen to select it causing the computer to "speak" for her. Basically, it allows her to use her eyes as a computer mouse. There are endless options and possibilities with this -- expressing her needs, wants, feelings; playing games; learning new things; allowing for independence; and eventually, with literacy and maturity, she can write and send emails with it. Wow! I'm all throat lumpy thinking about what is possible.
And Gwendolyn took to it all right away. She was so patient with the set up and so motivated, tapping her finger excitedly while everything was getting ironed out and calibrated. Once the positioning was right, the rep showed us everything and asked Gwendolyn to look at an image on the screen -- and off she went. She started with selecting between two images and that was a breeze for her. The four options were simple. And the six options made her so excited to do more. With every step tasks were asked of her and she passed with flying colors, loving every second of it! We then moved on to a game of Memory (having to match letters underneath cards on the screen) and she loved it -- especially when she won a trophy at the end of each game And she then learned how to restart the game on her own while we were busy talking! Awesome!
After the rep left, we were abuzz! This is such an amazing tool and we felt so excited, but we also know the reality of obtaining sophisticated equipment with a price tag in the thousands and thousands ($10,000+ for the whole unit) was going to be a challenge.
Enter a serendipitous gift -- a miracle really. A few hours later someone donated a Tobii device to Gwendolyn. Yes, the actual device we need. It isn't fully complete, but it is pretty darn close and we think this is amazing! It's in perfect condition and was barely used by the person who donated it to us. This is unbelievably generous and the timing is truly incredible. I take it as a sign that this is going to be a really wonderful thing for Miss G.
People (and often strangers as in this case) have been so incredibly generous to our family and we don't take any of it for granted -- ever. It means the world to us and things such as this are giving the world to Gwendolyn. We know Gwendolyn will love this new tool. We know this will help push the barriers SMA creates. We know this is a great new path toward enrichment and autonomy. And we can't wait to share all about it -- if Gwendolyn lets us