Becky has no voice, but that doesn’t limit her expressing herself - and she is worth listening to! This talented 16-year-old girl is severely affected by her diagnose quadriplegic cerebral palsy, but her inability to vocalize her opinions, has made her an expert in the eye gaze technology. Becky has a great sense of humor and is a very engaged and knowledgeable person. She is a fighter who achieves her goals.
We met Becky, who lives just outside London, and asked her to tell us about her life and how she overcomes her disability.
Can you tell us about yourself and what type of person you are?
I'm 16 years old, I use a computer to help me speak and to do a lot of things. I'm cheeky and I'm a very motivated person who wants to change the world to make it a better place for disabled people like me.
What are your interests and what encourages you?
My interests are art, drama and playing video games. I love painting pictures with my eyes (I can show you some of my artwork). I go to a drama group every week and I love performing on stage. My favourite video games are Minecraft, Star Stable and The Sims – I play these games with my eyes. I am an ambassador for Tobii Dynavox who make the eye gaze technology and communication devices that I use, and also for SpecialEffect who is a charity who helps disabled people play video games. I helped SpecialEffect to design and test an eye gaze interface to Minecraft. I love helping other people to do the things that I like to do.
Art by Beckey. "Sunset" - made with Eyegaze.
Can you tell a bit about your disability, what kind of support do you need?
I have severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy means that some of my brain does not work properly. My brain can’t control the muscles in my body. I can’t sit up on my own, and I can’t stand up or balance or walk. I can’t talk and I find it hard to eat. I have a special tube in my stomach to give me food and drink. I need a lot of support to do everyday tasks like getting out of bed, getting dressed, going to the toilet, eating my meals and doing my school work. I have 2 personal assistants to help me throughout the day. They use a hoist to transfer me to my wheelchairs and bed and into my exercise equipment including my Innowalk.
Are there any challenges or barriers you experience in your daily life?
I love going out into the community, especially going shopping, but this can be difficult for me as not all places have good wheelchair access. Also a lot of places do not have accessible ‘changing places’ style toilets with a hoist that I can use to transfer to a toilet so this can restrict the time that I am away from home. Making new friends is hard because I can’t talk. A lot of people don’t talk to me because I am in a wheelchair and some people assume that I can't understand them, or they talk to me like I’m a baby, when really I am like other teenagers.
What are your dreams and hopes for the future?
In the future, I would like to pass my GCSE's and maybe go to university. I would like to work with Tobii Dynavox and SpecialEffect. I would also like to be a YouTuber and make videos about my life. I am developing my own YouTube channel called EyeGazeGirl. I would love to do some work with YouTubers at the Yogscast who make gaming videos and have lots of fun! I would love to sell my eye gaze art too.
Is physical activity important to you?
When I use exercise equipment, such as the Innowalk, my legs are easier to move afterwards and my muscles feel very relaxed. As a full-time wheelchair user it can get uncomfortable sitting still for long periods of time, so the walking movement and upright position is a lovely change from my chair and it helps with bowel movements too! Being in the Innowalk and having the feeling of walking makes me feel very free and more in control of my body. The Innowalk gives me the movement that I am unable to get with any other equipment and I love it!
How did you get in contact with Made for Movement and the Innowalk?
We found out about the Innowalk through social media when a couple of friends tried one and liked it. It looked really cool so I was very keen to try it too! So I asked my physiotherapist to contact Made for Movement and organise a time to trial it. And I loved it straight away!
Watch the film about Becky: “Always follow your dreams and never give up”