Steeper has reached a turning point. Find out more here

Return to Steeper Homepage

Mia Austin

At age 21, I suffered a devastating stroke that left me completely paralysed apart from my eyes. My condition is called Locked-in Syndrome, which means that I’m completely aware of what’s going on around me, but I’m a prisoner in my own body. I can’t communicate verbally and I can’t move.

Mia Austin

I initially started out using a really basic alphabet chart as a means of communication, but it was so slow and frustrating that I only had the patience to spell out key words. It meant I had no privacy; asking parents, nurses and carers to text or email friends and colleagues. I was unable to be spontaneous; everything had to be planned through my family in advance. I had no independence as I had to rely on word of mouth to find out about concerts etc.
Then about 18 months after the stroke, I was introduced to Tobii through Steeper and it completely changed my life, I was automatically able to text friends in private, researching using the internet meaning I can go to concerts and the cinema etc. I am now able to email requests about my health or problems and take control over my life again!  I was able to find myself a friend, my puppy Dolly, who I found on the internet with the use of Tobii and I can do online shopping how I like and when I like! I can now do all of the rotas for the carers, myself, meaning I can take charge of my own care package.  I can now write again without using the spell chart which took forever, I’m now so quick that I’ve even managed to write a book about my story called ‘Hot Potato’ and, best of all, I’ve been able to return to work at Co-op Travel Care 15 hours a week.

Tobii gives me freedom. For example; I have been able to book a holiday, researching venues and airline possibilities, so I was in charge of my destination thanks to my computer. Again, researching activities to do, that have challenged me and changed my life. Such as: skydiving, zip wiring, going on an off road buggy, going to the gym, swimming and having physio. I am able to keep in touch with my friends in private and make spontaneous arrangements via Facebook. Tobii allows me to help others, I have raised money for Breast Cancer Research using a just giving site that I set up using my computer, I have also helped homeless people by donating things to charity which I found on the internet. I have been a speaker for Cheshire Centre for Independent Living using my Tobii device.

The support I have received from Steeper staff when problems have occurred has been fantastic particularly from Lee Hoppley. They have been dealt with efficiently and promptly.  Lee has helped me with personal training in using various Tobii programmes. When the screen needed fixing, a replacement was provided quickly and all documents were transferred without hassle. Lee has encouraged me to pursue my career, thinking of work positions I would be able to fulfill and be an asset to in the world of work.

To read Mia’s full story buy ‘Hot Potato’ it’s £5.00 and all profits go to charity.   Simply go to or follow her on facebook

To find out more, or to arrange a visit with your local Assistive Technology Product Advisor, email or call us on 0113 207 0449 today.

Get the FREE Steeper Assistive Technology newsletter