Yesterday I introduced two of my students to CameraMouse. Actually since CameraMouse will not be ready for trial for a month (see previous blog entry) I introduced them to Qualieye's free 30-day trial. Qualieye is similar enough to CameraMouse that when CameraMouse does come out for free in July I can switch them to that. I also installed some extra large cursors to make things easier for the students. Extra large cursors are available from a number of places including the ACE Centre.
Both students have degenerative neuromuscular diseases and little voluntary muscle control. The first student, an art lover, controlled the CameraMouse with her fist. To her delight (and mine) the camera focused in on the ring she received as a gift from a boy who likes her and it was the light reflecting off the ring that moved the mouse. This student used the CameraMouse, set to auto-click, with the free online Jackson Pollock painting program to create some beautiful art. She loved every minute of it.
Immediately after painting with CameraMouse the speech therapist saw her for a session and the student clicked through several layers on her Dynavox to go to the art page and ask the SLP to paint again. During her speech session the student used her Dynavox to dictate a note to me asking if she could do more painting. I, of course, let her.
My other student used her head to control the CameraMouse. It took us lots of playing with the settings to make it work for her. Using the Jackson Pollock program she enjoyed keeping the mouse still to change the color (usually to pink) and then painting a little before she changed the color again. She understood quickly how the auto-click worked and that staying still was the key to selection. A while later I tried her on the Little Fingers Balloon Game. Although this game is well below her cognitive and age level, she found it to be quite entertaining as she worked on controlling the CameraMouse enough to stay still over the small balloon that showed the letter she was looking for. After she popped four balloons, she turned to me, glowing with pride and said, "I am getting good at this!" For a young lady who has only ever lost ability because of her disease the joy in gaining an ability was obvious and heart warming.
Monday these students and I will spend some more time with CameraMouse. I am working on finding some fun and age appropriate games that are simple enough for beginners using CameraMouse. I plan to try some of the Reactive Colors activities.
After that much pride and accomplishment the day ended with our school prom, which is always thrilling. Days like this remind me why I choose this career.