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Lasers Can Be Easy to Use

(This question presumes that the individual has sufficient head movement and control to use a laser).

A laser can be a relatively easy way to point to letters and words.

 Connie Can Use a Head Laser, But Not a Head Mouse.*   Why?

 

Connie's neck has become very weak. She no longer has the strength or the range of motion to use her ‘head mouse’ with a standard onscreen keyboard. 

Connie can't use an onscreen keyboard, yet she is able to use the laser on her glasses to accurately point to over 160 targets on a giant communication board.  Why is she able to use the laser but not the head mouse?

Listed below are some of the reasons using a laser may be physically easier than using a high tech system.

 

Check out a video of Connie using her laser to get a sense of how quickly she communicates in comparison with her high tech system.

 Connie with her dog, Peek-a-boo

 

Lasers Can Be Relatively Physically Easy to Use Because:

 

A Good Communication Partner Can Carry Some of the Work Load 

Putting together a message takes work. A good communication partner can help lift some of that load.

Word Prediction

A competent, familiar communication partner can speed communication by guessing and finishing the word or sentence.  

Communication devices also offer word prediction, but there is one big difference:  focus.  

When a person uses word prediction on a device, they have to keep looking back and forth between the keyboard and the word prediction.   Word prediction can speed up communication up in certain ways, but it can also slow things down as the person keeps shifting their attention between the keyboard and the word prediction. With low tech word prediction, there is no loss of focus.

(Note:  Having a communication partner guess and finish words is a matter of personal preference. Some people don’t want their partner to finish their words or thoughts.)

Location Prediction

A good communication partner can be more intelligent than a computer in certain ways.  Imagine that an individual is tired, and is struggling to reach  a particular target on the board. Based on content, the partner can have a fair sense of what the person is trying to point to, and make an educated guess.

 having-a-good-communication-partner-can-help-2.jpg

working-together-to-create-the-message.jpg

A Laser Beam Always Goes Where Pointed

 

When a person uses a head mouse or an eye gaze system, the cursor doesn’t always go where they want it to go. When that happens, the individual needs to re-calibrate in order to improve accuracy.

A laser, on the other hand, travels in a straight line. It always goes exactly where it's been pointed.

 lasers-go-where-pointed-2.jpg

No Calibration = Less Head Movement  

Less Head Movement = Less Fatigue

 

 

A head operated mouse requires ongoing calibration during use.

If a person can’t reach a target on the far right side of the screen, they can recalibrate by looking to the far left, then back to the right. 

A laser pointer doesn’t need to be recalibrated. This means it requires significantly less head movement than a head mouse.

no-calibration-2.jpg

The Farther Away the Target,  the Less Head Movement Required

 

 

Connie’s communication board is huge, 3 feet across and 2 feet high. Even though her neck is very weak, she is able to easily point to every target on the board.

This is because the communication board is on the far side of the room. The distance amplifies her small head movements.
the-farther-away-the-communication-board-the-less-movement-requiredf.jpg

 

 

 

*NOTE:  Connie can't use a conventional onscreen keyboard, but she is able use a head mouse with Dasher, a special software program.