Insurance Commission presents Independent Living Centre WA with 2019 Innovation Award
17 May 2019
Independent Living Centre WA (ILC) won a 2019 WA Disability Support Award in the Insurance Commission-sponsored Excellence in Innovation category that rewards innovative approaches that improve outcomes for people with disability.
Nedlands-based ILC’s Community Allied Health Services (CAHS) Schools Team was lauded for its work delivering the Engaging in Eye Gaze: Collaborating and Consulting with Schools Project, collecting its award and prize at a ceremony on 11 May.
Eye-gaze technology enables people whose eye control is their most efficient and reliable movement to control a speech-generating device or computer. The technology is critical, as it allows them to communicate independently, without which they would be unable to.
Led by ILC speech and occupational therapists, the pilot project involved around 50 students with disability from nine WA schools who trialled the technology.
The project demonstrated how eye-gaze technology can support students with complex physical needs to communicate, learn and socialise. The technology helped maximise students’ educational outcomes, and the project provided teachers, support staff and families with implementation assistance.
Kane Blackman, Commission Secretary at the Insurance Commission, says: “We sponsor the Innovation Award to promote fresh ideas in the disability sector, which can have transformative effects on the quality of life and independence of people with disability.
“This is particularly important to the Insurance Commission given our critical role of providing care and compensation to claimants injured in vehicle crashes and at work.
“The judges agreed that the ILC project was the most innovative and effective nomination to help people with disability, out of a field of some very high-calibre applications.
“Eye gaze is an emerging technology that the CAHS Schools Team successfully demonstrated can increase students’ participation in the classroom, not to mention everyday activities. Examples in the classroom included turning the pages and engaging with books, completing a painting with their eyes, engaging in play and recreation, as well as accessing vocabulary to communicate with teachers and students.”
Mr Blackman explained that some people with catastrophic injuries from vehicle crashes can benefit from eye-gaze technology to become more independent and require less care.
ILC Chief Executive Officer Steve Glew congratulated the CAHS Schools Team on their success.
“I am very proud to be a part of this organisation, as I get to work among people who are so passionate about their work and about supporting people with disability to achieve their goals, whatever they may be.
“Our speech pathologists and occupational therapists are known for their expertise in assistive technology, and for thinking outside the box to find the best solutions for individuals.
“There were so many worthy nominees for this award and we are privileged to have been announced as the winner.
“I would like to congratulate the CAHS Schools Team and acknowledge their hard work and passion. I also offer my congratulations to the other award nominees and finalists.”
The runner-up in the Innovation category was Richmond Wellbeing, which implemented an outreach support program, in consultation with Aboriginal elders, to provide culturally-safe services, and to boost recruitment and retention of Aboriginal employees.
Last year, the winner of the inaugural Excellence in Innovation category was Perth-based Holly Bridges, who won the award for her neuroplasticity work that helps people with disability improve their physical and social presentations.
As part of the Engaging in Eye Gaze project, the CAHS Schools Team produced a video series and information sheets to support the successful use of eye-gaze technology in the classroom. These free resources are available at https://ilc.com.au/engaging-in-eye-gaze/