This story was collaboratively authored by Mac and Elizabeth Welsh (Tier 3 Provincial SLP). Mac is an intelligent, inspiring and funny young man in Grade 8 attending Ballenas Secondary in Parksville on Vancouver Island. Some of Mac’s favourite activities are listening to music, hanging out with friends, participating in the year book club, photography, telling jokes, cooking, performing magic and skiing. In Mac’s words “I’m a professional” (referring to skiing). In fact Mac is hoping he will get a Go Pro camera for Christmas that he can wear when skiing.
Mac’s biggest goal – next to talking without a device and becoming a cook or Great Dane Breeder – is to be as independent as possible in everything that he does. Because he has physical limitations due to cerebral palsy, Mac has to access things in his daily life in a different way. Using his eyes with eye gaze technology Mac can do just about anything with his computer:
- talking to others and telling some pretty awesome jokes using communication software and an onscreen keyboard
- writing using an onscreen keyboard with word prediction,
- accessing his curriculum resources and assignments using more specialized software such as Windows Control with Google Read and Write
- accessing the internet
- completing school activities and tons of other leisure activities such as listening to his favourite music (Ed Sheeran) on Spotify.
Mac already decides when the calibration is off with his eye gaze system and navigates into the settings to re-calibrate himself. It’s almost impossible to keep up with him!
There really isn’t anything Mac can’t do. Or so we thought until, one day, Mac asked to try out a joy stick. His reason? Despite the fact that it was a much slower access method then eye gaze, he still needed a way to troubleshoot his eye gaze system when it was acting up and not working properly and he certainly wasn’t interested in waiting for an adult or IT person to get around to fixing it. With great determination, despite the physical effort, Mac successfully used the joystick that was loaned to him and discovered other great uses for it. The joystick could, he decided, also help him with other tasks such as inputting his passcode into the computer (when eye gaze is not accessible) or accessing the year book club computer and software not accessible on his system. Mac is always coming up with new things that he needs and wants to access and because he is doing the same school work as his peers his team is always trying hard to keep up with him.
There is no doubt that before long Mac will be programming his own technology and teaching others how to use it. Stay tuned for Mac’s big directing debut when he will be creating a documentary on his life and successes!
To learn more about the technology used in this SETstory, search for it by name in learningSET.