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As a school-based professional you have much to consider when it comes to selecting assistive technology for your students. While meeting the complex communication needs in your school district is unique, read on to learn how one district in Michigan is achieving this task with the adaptability of VersaEye™ eye tracking for iPad®.

The team at Oakland Intermediate School District recently incorporated VersaEye into their mix of eye tracking solutions. Team members Kristen Strong, Kevin Veltman, and Marcel Verstraete have identified five ways iPad eye tracking fits their needs.

Eye tracking for iPad as a separate purchase

VersaEye is an eye tracking accessory that’s purchased separately from an iPad unlike traditional and fundable speech-generating devices. As a larger school district serving 28 schools, Oakland ISD already owns iPads and apps that are compatible with iPadOS 17. Adding VersaEye to their current trusted tablet collection is a cost saving measure that also bridges the gap between the new and familiar.

Curious to know how simple the VersaEye setup is? Check out the VersaEye Quick Start Guide.

Eye tracking with familiar technology

To help an AAC learner achieve their highest level of communication, all members of a student’s augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) team—speech language pathologists, teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, student, and more—are involved with device and vocabulary management. Having AAC on a familiar platform like an iPad can help ease the concerns of learning something entirely new like eye gaze. There’s comfort going into the process by having a basic understanding of how an iPad works. Breaking down this initial barrier to AAC encourages continued use from the start.

“Families are relieved when they learn their child’s assistive technology is through an iPad,” said Kristen Strong, AAC Consultant, Oakland Intermediate School District. “Eye gaze can feel scary and unknown, while an iPad is a familiar and everyday object.”

The Oakland team encourages families to start small when it comes to AAC and eye tracking. Practice one concrete task at a time and build on those skills. It could be as simple as practicing button activation so they can better understand cause and effect as well as improve the calibration or syncing process. Strong has used VersaEye with students as young as kindergarten. Young communicators are often pleased the first time the power of their words through AAC makes an action happen. It can be what takes place off the screen that encourages their engagement to further practice the technology.

Eye tracking with many AAC app options

We all have a favorite AAC app or two. A school district with many students using AAC may want to have multiple AAC apps from several different companies. VersaEye, built with an MFi-certified Hiru™ eye tracker, offers the option of using the iOS app of your choice because it is fully integrated with the operating system. Work with your mobile device manager (MDM), or Apple® School Manager, to purchase and install. “We like the flexibility of choosing any AAC app that fits well with our students and their access needs,” said Strong.

Communication is the priority of VersaEye in a school environment. AAC is a powerful tool for students with complex bodies to develop vocabulary and language skills. Having email available on the same technology as their AAC vocabulary can be an exciting way for students to demonstrate what they are learning. “Our students are starting to use AAC to send emails to their parents,” said Kevin Veltman, Integration Specialist, Oakland Intermediate School District. “For a parent who has been told their child has limitations, receiving an email from them is an emotional moment.”

As a student’s language and communication skills grow, the VersaEye and iPad combination will allow them to access their world with more independence and more participation in their academic, leisure, and social activities.

Eye tracking with convenient service

Technology development is exciting with frequent updates to improve the user experience. There can also be service needs depending on use scenarios as it’s critical for AAC systems to go with a student throughout their day. The assistive technology team at Oakland ISD appreciates the remote management feature that’s possible with iOS devices—especially as they serve students in multiple buildings across their county. In their district, an iPad can also be quickly swapped out with another from their local supply. “Getting a working eye tracking solution back to a student in a short period of time is a benefit of VersaEye,” noted Veltman.

Eye tracking that’s affordable

Eye tracking technology is still relatively new in the industry, and budgets are part of the decision-making process. Oakland ISD currently has an assortment of 120 eye tracking systems to serve their students with special needs until the age of 26. The just-right price of $2,995 makes VersaEye a practical and affordable choice. “It’s becoming less true to say that eye tracking is too expensive or out of price range,” Strong said. “VersaEye works and is a great price.” Veltman added, “We purchased a total of eight VersaEye units for our district this year. We were ready to try something new and this product is priced well compared to other options and easier to technically support.” Their confidence is growing in VersaEye.

Is VersaEye right for your students?  

The right user experience. The right support. The right amount of independence. Learn more or connect with us at

Students can accomplish what matters most to them with VersaEye™. Continue reading about eye tracking for your iPad in the classroom here.

Versa  -    ipad eye tracking. assistive technology