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).
McEwen, R., Atcha, A., Lui, M., Shimaly, R., Maharaj, A., Ali, S., & Carroll, S. (2020). Interlocutors and interactions: Examining the interactions between students with complex communication needs, teachers, and eye-gaze technology. Human-Machine Communication, 1, 113-131. https://doi.org/10.30658/hmc.1.7