Google.org has announced the allocation of grants to promote technological innovations that will make the world more accessible and focus on solutions for people with disabilities.
Ezer Mizion was chosen by Google for its project with Click2speak, an Israeli start-up, to develop an on-screen eye-tracking operated keyboard that will enable people with high cognitive function and limited mobility to communicate and control their environment.
Google.org project head Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink wrote: “At Google.org, we support organizations that offer innovative solutions to complex challenges. We’re thrilled to back Ezer Mizion as they help build a world that works for everyone.” #GoogleImpactChallenge
To develop a virtual, onscreen keyboard operated by eye tracking for people with limited mobility and high cognitive function, enabling them to communicate and control their environment
In the U.S. alone, 7.5 million people have trouble using their voices
Many of them also have impaired motor skills and are unable to manage a standard keyboard and benefit from alternative communication options. For them, effective communication is a serious struggle. And since currently available communication technology is both unaffordable and needlessly restrictive, many users have difficulty maintaining personal relationships, independent function and professional productivity.
Develop an eye tracking operated keyboard
With a generous grant from Google.org, Ezer Mizion is working with Click2Speak to pilot an on-screen keyboard operated by eye-tracking. Development is based on user feedback and feature requests and will include support for additional languages, platforms, and input devices.
Facilitate communication with the best-in-class eye-tracking/mouse replacement software
With an affordable, multi-lingual, and easy-to-use on-screen keyboard, users with impaired motor skills and high cognitive ability can communicate easily and benefit from add-on features that enable them to control their environment.
Introducing Gal Sont, Chief Technology Officer, Click2Speak
Gal holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) in Mathematics and Computer Science. He has been involved in delivering complex solutions in growing technology organizations, as well as running and establishing the development activities and operations of several companies across international markets.
Gal bring years of extensive experience spearheading the development processes for robust software products in various fields such as E-Learning, social sports websites, online travel, and Big Data.
Gal, married and father to two young daughters, was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2009. Before Gal was diagnosed with the disease, he competed in off road Enduro motorbike races, snowboarding, kite surfing, off road adventure – an adrenaline junkie!
Today his adrenaline rush comes from a different source – he wants to help disabled people in any way he can, starting by writing code that will improve their quality of life. Gal has been programming (mostly using his eyes due to his illness) the ultimate user-friendly, on-screen virtual keyboard for the benefit of disabled individuals who are cognitively competent but cannot use their voices for communicating or manage a manually operated keyboard. The Click2Speak keyboard is controlled by eye tracking and eye-operated communication and control system and features the world’s most advanced Swiftkey prediction engine which leverages its efficiency.
Click2Speak power user: Reuven Kagan
Reuven Kagan is 73 years old, married and father to six children, lives in Israel. Reuven suffers from ALS. He is one of Click2Speak’s power users, relying on Click2Speak for his everyday communication needs and for typing in Hebrew and French. Reuven sends invaluable feedback to the Click2Speak team on a regular basis.
Reuven loves Click2Speak and says: “This amazing product has allowed me to keep working. You have done a great thing for people in my condition.” Reuven is a professional translator and works in translating books from Hebrew to French, using the Click2Speak virtual keyboard for his work!
Reuven first learned about Click2Speak’s software through working closely with Debbie Bental from the Ezer Mizion Augmentative and Alternative Communication Loan Center team, who recommended trying Click2Speak as a communication option.
Debbie says that Click2Speak has made Reuven’s work much more efficient and that he physically tires much less. Reuven is set up with BJoy Ring as a mouse emulator, turning the joystick of his wheelchair into the mouse to control the computer and use Click2Speak’s on-screen keyboard.