Eye Gaze Communication Board

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Eye Gaze Communication Board

Esa interacts with his Mum using E-tran frame with his gaze
Low-tech gaze-based communication aid, self made from cardboard

Low-tech eye pointing, cheap (self-made) gaze communication board, "first aid" solution for acute communication needs

Gaze Communication Board or Eye Communication Frame is a cheap, fast, easy-to-use eye communication method. There are several options that can be bought from stores that sell communication aids and assistive technology, such as the "E-tran (eye transfer) frame" illustrated below.

The gaze communication board is a see-through frame with letters or pictures on it. The board is placed between two people who want to have a conversation using the board. The board can either be attached on a table or wheelchair, or if one of the conversation partners is able-bodied, s/he can hold the board in front of the disabled person.

The communication board or frame can be made either from transparent plexi-glass, or it can also be made from cardboard with a big hole in the middle. In either case, it is important that the person on the other side can easily see the eye movements of the other person.

The disabled person then looks at one of the letters and the other person interprets her/his gaze direction and speaks out the letter to confirm. After confirmation, the next letter is interpreted similarly: one person looks at the letter and the other acts as a human "eye tracker" and interprets which letter the other person is pointing. Just like a computer-based eye tracking system, also here feedback (speaking out the letter) is important to confirm the selection and to allow error correction in case of a misinterpretation.

In the E-Tran frame, the letter are grouped into corners of the frame. Each letter in a group has different color coding. To select a letter, the user first looks at the letter (group) and then the color "button" that matches the color of the letter. Having the letters in such groups reduces errors, though the 2-step selection is a bit slower than direct pointing. It is a bit hard to interpret gaze direction accurately if the targets are small and close to each other, but it is very easy to see which one of the corners of the frame the gaze is pointed at.

Self-Made Eye Gaze Frames

It is possible to make an eye communication frame from a card board (see the picture above). Below are two different versions of the eye gaze frame, with instructions for making them and printable templates for both.

Eye gaze frame 1

picture of the eye gaze frame template 1

The idea for this frame came from Anette Dinesen (Tønsberg, Norway), thanks Anette!
Instructions and a printable template for this eye gaze frame is available in two different formats:

Eye gaze frame 2

picture of the eye gaze frame template 2

This frame was made by Helena Hörkeby, who is a speech and language therapist in Stockholm, thanks Helena!
Instructions and a printable template for this eye gaze frame is available in two different formats:


SPEAKBOOK

  • SPEAKBOOK, free, downloadable communication book, with instructions. This is an extended version of the simple communication frames illustrated above.


More Information

Videos

YouTube video explaining how to use gaze communication frame:

Guides

The Call Centre has prepared an excellent Quick Guide for Eye Pointing and using an Etran Frame

Electronic communication board

MegaBee is an electronic version of the see-through communication board. Using it, the assistant / communication partner does not need to remember the spelled letters but can simply click on the colors the user is looking at. The spelled letters will appear into the text field below the letter board.

Articles

Goossens', C. A., & Crain, S. S. (1987). Overview of nonelectronic eye gaze communication techniques. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 3, 77-89. Order the article online

Scott, J. 1998. Low Tech Methods of Augmentative Communication. In Allan Wilson (Ed.) Augmentative Communication in Practice: An Introduction, (2nd ed.), 13-18. Available online (PDF)

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