Due to the effects of a deadly car accident two decades ago, 37-year-old Joellan Huntley of Nova Scotia was left without the ability to walk or talk. On Christmas Day, however, she was able to communicate with her mother for the first time in 21 years thanks to new eye-tracking technology, CBC News reported.

Louise Misner, Huntley’s mother, was able to have something resembling a conversation with her daughter after decades of silence thanks to the EyeGaze eye-tracking technology. EyeGaze’s software allows disabled users to communicate by looking at icons on a screen. In Huntley’s case, she was able to look at an icon for a long-sleeved shirt to respond to a comment her mother made about her Christmas outfit.

Huntley was thrown from a car in a 1996 accident that took the life of her boyfriend and another young girl who was with them. The car violently swerved off the road to avoid a loose dog, which resulted in a “catastrophic brain injury” for Huntley. From 1996 until now, all she was able to do was make noises to acknowledge the presence of family members or use simple cue cards to communicate with caretakers, the Chronicle Herald reported.

The family won a $1 million insurance settlement after the accident, but things were complicated by the Nova Scotia Community Services Department’s effort to win back some of that money to help with care costs. The court battle ended with an undisclosed settlement, which Huntley’s family used to purchase the EyeGaze equipment. Misner called it a “Christmas miracle.”

"When God gives you a child, they are the most precious thing and you never give up on them and you always fight for them,” Misner said.