“They were not in the center of my mind when we developed the technology,” he said. Rather, the prototype was being used to play video games. But once it was demonstrated at a technology conference, others could see its potential for people with disabilities.
One of those was Kathy Nash, who stumbled upon a brief report about EagleEyes on television and realized it could help her teenage son, Michael, who was born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, was nonverbal and had no voluntary muscle movement below the neck. The family had been told that his intelligence level was below that of a 2-year-old.
Hoping to try EagleEyes on her son, she called Dr. Gips, who was resistant, since the technology was still in a developmental stage. But Ms. Nash was determined.
“About her third or fourth telephone call on that phone there,” Dr. Gips says in the documentary, “I said, ‘O.K., let’s try.’ ”
“It was clear to me within a minute of his getting on the system that he was perfectly intelligent,” Dr. Gips continues. The “Turning Point” episode ends with footage of Michael’s high school graduation ceremony in 2003.
James Elliot Gips was born on April 3, 1946, in Queens. His father, William, was an accountant, and his mother, Helene Sally Rosenthal Gips, was a teacher.
He grew up in Larchmont, N.Y., where he was an excellent bridge player, winning the Westchester County scholastic pairs championship. He graduated from nearby Mamaroneck High School in 1963.