Putting the right steps into place – eye-gaze technology is the star of the show for Lisa!
Lisa Glass (Simpson) is determined to express herself and teach others to do the same… through dance. While cerebral palsy has affected her movement and speech, she leads an active life, managing her own care and social aspects of her life as well as running a dance business.
Lisa became interested in choreography whilst at Hereward College and then later went onto study Surface Pattern Design at University. Following her passion, she now is an Artist in Residence at UCLan (University of Central Lancashire) alongside her own dance initiatives. Lisa has gone onto to develop the Simpson Board, a system to allow people with disabilities to choreograph a dancer.
We’d been working with Lisa for a number of years supporting her communication needs and access to technology in particular her computer. She’d originally accessed our support through an NHS-funded service with North West Assistive Technology (NWAT), based at Aintree Hospital.
Working in partnership, we’ve developed a communication system which provides her with the same sense of flexibility and independence in her online communications as she has in her day to day life. Over the years Lisa had developed and perfected a system based on a EyeLink board – which she prefers to use for a lot of face to face communication but will use computer-based systems when she needs to – or for long-distance communication. This started with using a switch at her knee with EZKeys – the same software that Stephen Hawkins used and over time she has moved to eye gaze technology.
Most recently Lisa turned to us when her previous eye-gaze system broke. After consultation with NWAT, who are funded to provide computer access equipment, the team from the Ace Centre carried out a joint assessment to identify which developing technologies Lisa would benefit from the most. After carrying out an initial evaluation in Lisa’s home, we identified the best eye-gaze system compatible with her desktop computer. Understanding Lisa’s preference for low-tech rather than high-tech systems we highlighted the eye-gaze kit and switch kit so she could also access her phone. The new eye-gaze technology provided enables Lisa to freely speak to others online. Something she previously used to great effect in developing her business and finding love! She met her husband online – using AT.
Adapting the eye-gaze to her day to day life has also enabled Lisa to apply the same principles to the dance sphere. It was imperative that she was able to communicate clearly and accurately with her students and other staff members. And she’s taken it further, developing her own choreography system for other people with disabilities to direct others. Looking to the future if Lisa requires any further assistance, the Ace Centre is able to address any issues that come up through our remote support service.
Our partnership with Lisa supports her to work and communicate independently without having to rely on work colleagues, friends or family for help. The impact of her actions go beyond the personal and individual – Lisa allows us to use her experiences to directly help others identify which systems they would benefit from. She also provided her testimony and insights for our Ace Centre network day – helping other people and individuals gain confidence, understanding and encouraging them to let their skills, interests and impact to take centre stage just as dance does for Lisa.
Find out more about Lisa, and her novel communication system for Dance Choreography at SimpsonBoard