User Involvement Users
WP3 - Focus on the Users
This page is about the users that WP3 represents in this project. Our aim is to trial different eye control systems with different users, and see how they feel about the hardware and software they are shown. In this way, we can inform the developers of the improvements that should be made and of the capabilities that the systems should have. It is very valuable to have the opinions of the people who could potentially benefit from the use of eye control technology, and we are grateful for their participation.
The potential users who are giving their opinions on eye control technology
Sarah has a high spinal lesion that, for her, means that she cannot move her body below the neck and has to rely on a ventilator to breathe. She has very good head control and is able to use a mouthstick for a range of activities. Using the mouth-stick to control the mouse and keyboard gives her the high level of accuracy she requires for web design. However, it requires a great deal of effort and difficulty. For this reason, she is extremely interested in using eye control for whichever computer applications she can. Having trialled it over several days, Sarah feels that eye control offers her a more direct, comfortable and quick method of carrying out certain tasks.
Letter from Sarah
Sarah's thoughts about eye control and head mouse
I think both the eye control system and the head mouse systems are both really clever and good inventions for disabled people. Both I think are good in different ways, for example the eye control system is really good for people who can’t move their head very well, but at the same time the head mouse is a technique to use for computer operators who can’t use the eye control system as well.
For me, I think personally although I’ve had a lot more experience with the head mouse, I think I’d prefer to use the eye control method of using the computer. This is because as I design web sites, I think it is easier when doing something delicate or tricky to stare at it with your eyes rather than having to keep your head in the same place while you wait for it to click and there’s a lot more movement you can do quicker with your eyes. Plus when I breathe as I’m on a ventilator, when I breathe in and out and I’m concentrating on trying to keep my head still sometimes it doesn’t work and the cursor shoots off.
Also thinking of improvements, I think it would be good to improve on making both the head mouse and eye control systems so that it doesn’t react as much to light, because it’s annoying when you have to keep trying to stop it reacting to light. I also think that there should be a beam built into computers e.g. laptops so that you don’t have to set anything up you can just turn on the computer as normal and it detects if there’s not a manual mouse attached and just switches over to the beam that’s built in so then you can use either eye control or the head mouse depending on which program you have starting up automatically when the computer starts up.
Sarah Yeo 11 April 2006
Stuart has athetoid cerebral palsy. This means that it is difficult for him to make any controlled movement. Attempts at a deliberate movement can result in a range of involuntary movement. When Stuart tried eye-control for writing with the Tobii system, he used it very quickly and efficiently and was soon able to use it far more quickly and comfortably than his current switch access method. He was extremely pleased and impressed by this new, quick and efficient method of computer access. However, despite this, there is no way in which eye control can replace his current switch access to assistive technology (for speech, mobility and environmental control) at present.
Michael is in his early 40's. He had a severe stroke about 2 years ago. He cannot speak but communicates by looking at letters on an ‘e-tran frame’. Michael has a certain amount of difficulty with head control and has nystagmus, which means that he cannot fix his gaze in the same way that other people can - both of Michael's eyes have a significant amount of involuntary side-to-side movement. He would like to be able to access the computer quickly and efficiently in order to communicate socially and assist with his wife's business. At present his only form of access to technology is via switches, which he finds very slow and frustrating and he would very much like to use eye control as a quicker and easier method. It is important for developers to try to accommodate people like Michael by taking his kinds of difficulties (involuntary head movement and fluctuating visual difficulties) into account.
Ahmar is a young man with cerebral palsy and has been a successful user of his SofType/HeadmouseExtreme combination for many years. However, when using the headmouse for computer access, because of his involuntary movement, Ahmar has to work at 'stiffening' his whole body in order to keep his head still enough to achieve accuracy he requires in order to access the onscreen keyboard. Even though he had tried eye control as an access method for a relatively brief period of time, Ahmar was extremely clear and decisive about his views on this access method, particularly for writing. The Tobii system was able to 'ignore' Ahmar's involuntary head movement and track the movement of his eyes alone. As a result, Ahmar was able to relax his whole body. He felt that whether it was quicker or not, he would be able to 'eye-write' for far longer, far more comfortably.
Paul is a young man who has cerebral palsy. Nine years ago he was able to use an ordinary keyboard and mouse but since then his physical abilities have changed. The speed at which Paul has been able to move his fingers and arms has slowed down, his range of movement has decreased and the amount of pressure he is able to apply has steadily reduced. Now, because he can no longer apply enough pressure to control a mini-joystick, he uses a SmartNav headmouse, because he still has a reasonable range of head movement. At present, Paul is using his headmouse very effectively, but head movement might become increasingly difficult and tiring for him. It is therefore important for him to consider eye control as his next method of accessing and controlling the computer.
Claire has athetoid cerebral palsy. She is bright, literate and well motivated. She currently uses a special joystick to access the computer. However, this is very time consuming and involves a great deal of physical effort for her because her condition means that there is a great deal of involuntary movement whenever she tries to carry out a manual task. Just reaching out to grasp the joystick handle in the first place is very difficult. However, when there are no physical demands on Claire, she can sit reasonably still with comparatively little involuntary movement. Even though she had the challenge of ‘eye writing’ on a system she’d never tried before, on an unfamiliar keyboard/grid layout she still managed to remain relaxed, and quite still. This means that potentially, eye control could be quicker and less tiring for Claire because of the great reduction in involuntary movement.