A video study on AAC use in conversations

line drawing of two girls facing each other with their eye gaze devices mounted in front of them. Their deivces are blocking their view of each other.


I’m so delighted to share details of my first full paper co-authored with Mina Vasalou and Mike Clarke. It’s to appear in the CHI 2018 proceedings and has been awarded an honourable mention.


Design Opportunities for AAC and Children with Severe Speech and Physical Impairments


My PhD project is loosely split into three slices which inform each other. The first slice investigates how high tech AAC devices are used in conversations involving children and adults in school, with design implications in mind. The second slice is exploring how communication manifests more broadly; with and without technology. The focus is on how children with severe speech and physical impairments communicate meanings about themselves and their lives. The third slice is looking at representing this information from a child-centred perspective with empathy. The broader goal is to generate a tool for design that prompts new ways of thinking about how digital technologies can advance communication. (wow. my whole phd in six sentences 😉 )


The paper documents the first part of the project, examining how communication is created when AAC is present. I focus on analysing video data from conversations in school involving five child participants, their peers and adults. Please get in touch to share your thoughts.


line drawing of two girls facing each other with their eye gaze devices mounted in front of them. Their deivces are blocking their view of each other.
‘AAC as a material object’

Researching with, not for.

child with thinking cap

In this post, I had intended to sum up my views on why AAC design research should start to involve children who are direct beneficiaries of AAC technologies.

It has long been established that children are expert at being children.  Try as we might, therapists, teachers, engineers and designers can only go so far as to have a view about what children might think about a specific idea or artifact.  We can’t actually assume we are any closer to creating appropriate and usable technologies unless we include the key stakeholders themselves.  Saying that, the heterogeneity between children who use AAC makes it incredibly difficult to represent the views of children themselves in research without adding tokenistic contributions.  So what do we do then? My initial thoughts; start small and be clear about who communicated specific opinions.  Some views might be generalised, others may not be.

In beginning to explore research with children and young people, I’m quickly establishing that there is a great deal already out there which describes children as active participants.

Much of what I’ve read describes this far more eloquently than anything I could compile and critique here.  For this reason, I’m directing the remainder of this post towards Prof. Priscilla Alderson’s blog post, entitled: “The missing third that skews sociology”. Here is the link to this post.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!