Name: Carlos Ruiz
Home: New Jersey
Product: Tobii Dynavox I-12
Condition: Cerebral palsy
Carlos Ruiz has a keen enthusiasm for life. It multiplies when he plays competitive chess through the Tobii Dynavox I-12 eye-tracking device he also uses for communication.Seeing his passion for the game, speech therapist Lauren Davidson designed a chess page on the device so Carlos could play independently. “My goal was to make it as easy as possible for him and to have every combination of moves,” she said. While playing, Carlos goes to his chess page and with simple eye movements tells an assistant where to move his pieces.
"My goal was to make it as easy as possible for him and to have every combination of moves."
Jorge and Yesica Ruiz came to the United States eight years ago from Peru, seeking resources to help Carlos, their only child, lead a full life despite speech and physical disabilities related to his cerebral palsy. Long before that, Jorge, also a competitive chess player, taught his son the game using cards marked to correspond with chess board locations. Carlos nodded or gazed at the cards to indicate his desired plays and someone moved the pieces for him.
Father and son now travel the East Coast to participate in some of the same tournaments. Carlos has beaten able-bodied competitors. He shared his experiences with peers at Jardine Academy near his home in New Jersey during a school assembly—using the I-12, of course.
There’s “definitely a huge difference in his interactions when the device is with him,” principal Cynthia Isaksen said. “He is a typical teenage boy. He likes to be funny and he likes to be heard. If he doesn’t have that device, he certainly feels it.” Carlos loves taking photos using the I-12’s built-in camera. He has used the device to sing and play trumpet sounds in the school holiday show.
"There’s definitely a huge difference in his interactions when the device is with him. He is a typical teenage boy. He likes to be funny and he likes to be heard. If he doesn’t have that device, he certainly feels it."