IPAD head or eye tracking

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New member
Oct 25, 2020
Lost a loved one
Homer Glen
Hello everyone. I’ve been using this site for quite some time now and have found it wonderfully helpful. I’m the full time caregiver for my wife Joni. Joni has bulbar ALS along with FTD (Frontotemporal Dementia). Her symptoms started summer 2018 and was diagnosed summer 2019. Today she can’t speak or swallow at all. Her arms and hands have lost a lot of function but she can still use them below her shoulders and can still stand and walk.

The dementia has really affected her ability to interact. We have the “Speech Assist” text to speech App on her IPAD but she really doesn’t use it much unless I really can’t figure out what she wants and make her use it (her handwriting is pretty much illegible). She does however love to use her IPAD all day playing solitaire or watching stuff on Facebook, YouTube, etc. As she is losing function now in her hands & arms I am trying to think about how she can still use her IPAD going forward.

I’m beginning to research this now but thought I would ask if anyone has experience using head or eye tracking with an IPAD Pro. I do have an IPAD Pro that I’m experimenting with but haven’t found it very intuitive. I don’t think she could learn anything too complicated or difficult to master due to the FTD. Our clinic speech therapist pretty much has just steered us toward the low tech alphabet boards and didn’t know much about the IPAD Pro capability. Those would work for basic communication but I hate to see her lose use of her IPAD that she enjoys.

Welcome, Dale, while sorry you are here. We'll help you help Joni however we can.

Granted, it's a short-term solution, but if she still has use of her feet, maybe she could use a foot pedal mouse for now, since you can use Bluetooth mice with the iPad Pro. A tongue/chin/finger mouse like the TetraMouse, with a Bluetooth adapter, is another option, maybe for longer.

Also, did you try mounting the iPad or using a floor stand (you could use a stand on a desk or counter for a trial period), to see if she could use her head as a switch once you enabled that in settings? It might be more intuitive than you think.

In the still shorter term, a trackpad mouse might be the least effort for her to operate with her hands.

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There is an organization called Bridging Voice that exists to support people with ALS and their families with assistive technology. Check out their website and give them a call.
Ask your doctor for an appointment to the Shirley Ryan Tech Lab.
Would Joni consider using a Windows based eye gaze device?
Thank you so much for the quick responses with great info. Laurie I think you may be right in the near term we probably could do fine with a track pad or external switch. I’ll play around some more myself with the accessibility switch control features and see if it could work for her.

Jessie and Matt those both look like great resources that I somehow could never find in hours of internet searching this topic. I will check them both out for sure. The Shirley Ryan Tech Lab is right by our clinic. She might be able to switch to a windows eye gaze system. I’m just not sure of her capacity to focus on anything too complicated.
Look up Hawkeye app for the iPad Pro. I use it on mine. You can download it for free and at least try it out.
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