This time last year we met Caitlin Ronan, a bubbly determined teenager studying for her AS levels, who has a rare form of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). This is a progressive neurological disease that has left her with no movement from the neck down, and less than 20% lung function so she is reliant on non-invasive ventilation 24 hours a day. This also means that she is dependant on her Mum Louise to do almost everything for her.
Until recently that included controlling her computer. Her mum had to be included if Caitlin wanted to send a Facebook message or email her friends. Caitlin had no privacy.
Introducing eye gaze
Caitlin was visited by Neil, one of our assistive technology specialists in the UK. Neil introduced Caitlin to eye gaze. For the first time in years she had the power to send a message to a friend without having her mum present, research things independently and even start a project that would result in changing not only her life but the life of others…
After trialling a Grid Pad Eye 13 eye gaze system, Caitlin got to work on an impressive fundraising campaign for a device of her own. Giving her the independence she has craved, eye gaze has been life-changing for Caitlin and she decided to not stop there.
One year on
A year on and Caitlin has achieved two AS Levels in Accounting and Maths, and a BTEC in Business Studies. She has also raised enough money to help other people access assistive technology when funding has been difficult. Last month she entered her second year of A levels, and is studying for her final exams that will take place next summer.
We were excited to work with Caitlin to create this short video focusing on her story. As you can see, having that freedom has really meant the world to Caitlin – enabling her to browse the Internet independently, do extra research for her studies, have the privacy she needs when socialising and chatting with friends like a normal teenager, and shop online. All things we take for granted.
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