The paralysed painter who creates masterpieces using her eyes

A MOTHER paralysed from the neck down has rebuilt her life thanks to a computer that works by tracking her eye movements.
Sarah Ezekiel, who has motor neurone disease, uses the technology to talk, email, book appointments and contact friends and family.

But she has also managed to continue her hobby of painting – and has become such a success that she now has her own exhibition.
The computer, called a Tobii Eyegaze, works by tracking eye movements via an infrared bar, giving users full mouse control with their eyes.
Users simply look at the computer screen and control the mouse cursor with their eye movements. They can then select by blinking or staring for a prolonged period.
The technology has helped thousands of people, some suffering from a spinal cord injury, become more independent. Ms Ezekiel, 46, said: ‘Everything was pretty straightforward for me until the age of 34.
‘I was happily married with a beautiful little girl and pregnant with my much longed for second child. I was healthy, fit and enjoying my pregnancy. I couldn’t have asked for more.
‘Then in February 2000, I noticed some weakness in my left arm and my speech was slurring. Two months later I had a definite diagnosis of motor neurone disease. It happened that quickly and I was absolutely terrified.
‘My world was shattered. My marriage collapsed as I became progressively disabled. I couldn’t physically care for my children or myself anymore, and spiralled into deep depression. ‘I’m now a single, disabled parent who is totally dependent on carers for everything. I never expected my life to change so tragically and it took me years to see anything positive about my situation. ‘But, I pulled myself up from rock bottom and if I could do it then I believe that anyone can. The first step was to start attending my local Marie Curie hospice in April 2001. I receive amazing care and really love going there.’ Ms Ezekiel who lives in North London, previously worked as a legal secretary. She currently has full custody of her two children, 15-year-old Aviva and Eric, 12. She creates the pictures from scratch, often taking inspiration from other images she has discovered online, or pictures she has been sent. The device can be attached to a normal desktop computer and costs £3,200 each.
Ms Ezekiel is now also selling her paintings in order to raise money for people like herself who need this technology to get by day-to-day.


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