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Students with disabilities use eyes to create art for Christmas cards

Students with disabilities use eyes to create art for Christmas cards

(Canyons School District, painting by Mackenzie)


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Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

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MIDVALE — A school in the Canyons District is using state-of-the-art technology to help severely disabled students.

Jordan Valley School welcomes students from birth to 22 years of age who are severely disabled. Students who are unable to speak or use their arms to communicate use a technology called Eagle Eyes that allows them to communicate, learn and create with their eyes.

Principal Mark Donnely said electrodes are hooked up to individuals that monitor eye movements. As the users learn how to control the muscles in their eyes, they are able to move a computer cursor and fixate for short periods of time on a screen to pick out objects. This allows them to learn how to read, draw pictures and communicate with others.

"It's amazing to see how the students light up because probably for the first time in their life they are in control over something else," Donnely said.

Donnely also said that Eagle Eyes also allows families to interact more with their child in ways that they couldn't do before.

"For families, you see tears, because they knew how intelligent their child is — they knew that — but now they're actually seeing them show you what they know," Donnely said. "It's just an eye-opener for everyone that's involved in it."

Eagle Eyes is also working on a standardized IQ test that can be taken within the parameters of this new technology, Donnely said.

Canyons School District sent out its annual Christmas cards this year with pictures drawn by students with their eyes.

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Becky Bruce and Heather Kelly

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