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The University of Southampton

Southampton student blazes a trail for disability communication

Published: 7 November 2023
Woman in wheelchair smiling
Lucinda Ritchie

A University of Southampton student has been recognised as one of the most influential disabled people in the UK for her pioneering work supporting communication using eye movement.

Lucinda Ritchie, a final year Masters student studying Sustainability, is a finalist in the national Disability Power 100 – an initiative by The Shaw Trust that recognises and celebrates the 100 most influential and trailblazing people in the country with a disability.

Since losing the ability to communicate verbally in 2017, the 31-year-old communicates by using technology called Eye Gaze.

She works with a charity called SpecialEffect to test, refine, demonstrate, and advocate for communication, gaming, and wider accessibility for people who use Eye Gaze technology. In 2020, she became an ambassador for SpecialEffect, working with the charity on projects designed to constantly push the boundaries of accessibility to see what is actually possible.

Lucinda explained: “Eye Gaze is a piece of technology that detects eye movement through a camera or tracker. It allows people to communicate – to type, to play games, to control a computer, or even to do things such as turn lights and TV on and off – via eye movement. It’s how I communicate with everyone, as I can’t verbally talk, and I also have severe physical disabilities. It’s enabled me to study, take part in meetings, talk with friends, and have my independence.”

Lucinda is one of 10 national finalists in the Disability Power 100 in the Digital and Tech category. The winners will be announced at an awards event in London on Wednesday 8 November.

She said: “I feel so happy to be a finalist, I still can’t believe it! It’s an honour to be recognised alongside other pioneers and changemakers. I’m also looking forward to continuing to contribute to this area of supporting people with disabilities to communicate.”

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