ETTAC to demonstrate latest technology

9:10 PM, Feb 27, 2012   |    comments
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If seeing is believing, Carol Smith knows what the future looks like.

Monday morning, she took the East Tennessee Technology Access Center's newest tool for a test drive.

The "Tobii Eye-Gaze" communication device was made possible through a grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

With just their eyes, users can perform a variety of tasks. Specialized computer software includes everything from mental exercises to spelling programs; even the ability to control multimedia devices and e-mail.

Athetoid and Spastic Cerebral Palsy has Smith using a wheelchair and limited her speech since birth. She currently has another type of communication device, but her mother says it is old, slow, and difficult to use.

The new tool could open up doors that Jean Smith has so far only dreamed of.

"With a device like that, she could be more independent, she could be more her own person," she said. "I think that will do for Carol what we've been trying to do for years, and that is make her be more independent."

This week, ETTAC will showcase the device and others designed to increase literacy. Vendors will be on hand to demonstrate and answer questions about new technologies.

"It's just a time for people to come in and see a variety of different technology that is available for reading, for writing, and communication," said Alice Wershing, Educational Technology Coordinator at ETTAC.

It's technology the Smith family knows could change everything.

"That would mean the world to me," Jean Smith said of the possibility for Carol to have her own Eye-Gaze device. "I would just be so excited, I don't know if I could handle it or not."

Asked if she was ready to give it a shot, Carol responded enthusiastically.

"Oh yea," she said.

Wednesday's fair will be from 9am - 3pm at ETTAC's South Knoxville headquarters. Attendance is free and open to the public, though participants are encouraged to register in advance.

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