Eye gaze performance for children with severe physical impairments using gaze-based assistive technology

Gaze-based assistive technology (gaze-based AT) has the potential to provide children affected by severe physical impairments with opportunities for communication and activities. This study aimed to examine changes in eye gaze performance over time (time on task and accuracy) in children with severe physical impairments, without speaking ability, using gaze-based AT.

A longitudinal study with a before and after design was conducted on 10 children (aged 1-15 years) with severe physical impairments, who were beginners to gaze-based AT at baseline. Thereafter, all children used the gaze-based AT in daily activities over the course of the study. Compass computer software was used to measure time on task and accuracy with eye selection of targets on screen, and tests were performed with the children at baseline, after 5 months, 9-11 months, and after 15-20 months. Findings showed that the children improved in time on task after 5 months and became more accurate in selecting targets after 15-20 months.

This study indicates that these children with severe physical impairments, who were unable to speak, could improve in eye gaze performance. However, the children needed time to practice on a long-term basis to acquire skills needed to develop fast and accurate eye gaze performance.