WCIT Charity Review WCIT Charity Review of 2017 - Page 8

WCIT CHARITY REVIEW CPOTENTIAL 08 Using assistive technology to help children achieve their communication potential Eyegaze has matured rapidly in recent years, meeting the needs of the user as they progress in their use of this exciting, innovative and important piece of assistive technology As well as learning vital communication skills in a fun way, Farah controls the activity. This is so rare in all aspects of her life CPotential works with children aged 0-18 who have movement disorders due to conditions such as cerebral palsy or acquired brain injury. Many of the children also have associated communication difficulties. CPotential offers a range of Early Intervention and Sessional Services including speech and language therapy, music therapy and Conductive Education. It also runs Woodstar School, its own independent primary school and nursery. Its aim is to help children grow in confidence and skills so that they can live as independently as possible now and in the future and achieve their potential. A grant of £4,340 from WCIT funded a project in 2017 which combined technology and highly skilled professionals, including a speech and language therapist. The aim of the project was to teach children to communicate with others through individual communication systems and provide structured sessions for the children to develop these skills. Assistive technology (including the use of Eye Gaze and Soundbeam – previously funded by WCIT in 2015) coupled with a highly skilled speech and language therapist allows a personalised approach. Farah is nine and has severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy. She is non-verbal and has great difficulty communicating. Farah is attending sessions to develop her communication skills, using her own Eye Gaze computer. She has been working on tracking objects/pictures and maintaining her gaze, and responding to questions with her eyes. These skills give Farah a sense of control, which is so rare in all aspects of her life. With Eye Gaze she is thoroughly enjoying the experience of playing with her sisters on her terms! Learning to use the Eye Gaze system means Farah and children like her can ‘have a voice’. Calli Pellegrini, Head of Development at CPotential, said, “The funding from WCIT cuts to the heart of what we do at CPotential – give the children the support they need to make the most of their potential. The ability to understand, and be understood, forms the foundation of a child’s ability to learn. Assistive technology such as Eye Gaze and Soundbeam are vital tools for us and we are deeply grateful to WCIT for supporting such an important aspect of our work.”