This study analyzes the role of the machine as a communicative partner for children with complex communication needs as they use eye-tracking technology to communicate. We ask: to what extent do eye-tracking devices serve as functional communications systems for children with complex communication needs? We followed 12 children with profound physical disabilities in a special education classroom over 3 months. An eye-tracking system was used to collect data from software that assisted the children in facial recognition, task identification, and vocabulary building. Results show that eye gaze served as a functional communication system for the majority of the children. We found voice affect to be a strong determinant of communicative success between students and both of their communicative partners: the teachers (humans) and the technologies (machines).



Author ORCID Identifier

Rhonda McEwen 0000-0002-9451-2909

Michelle Lui 0000-0002-5859-8354