This is a fairly intermittent blog of my reflections on involving children in the design of communication aid technologies. Like other technologies, communication aids have the potential to improve lives by ‘giving people a voice’. On the most superficial level, seeing a computer attached to a child’s wheelchair immediately suggests that child has something to say and a way of saying it. What is not seen is the immense effort that is needed to learn to use the system, dissolution following the initial introduction of a device and, very commonly, abandonment. Children with neurodiverse or developmentally diverse skills have different skills that are shaped by their altered experiences of the world as they learn through interaction and play. Technologies that assume children follow typical language trajectories can be difficult to adopt.
Between 2019 – 2021 I was a research fellow on the H2020 funded iRead project, a large-scale innovation project that developed personalised reading technologies for primary-aged children, across six European countries. My main responsibilities were to coordinate and lead the dissemination strategy and contribute to the design and implementation of evaluation phase fieldwork, as primary contact for 10 schools.
In my clinical roles, I have worked as a highly specialist SLT with clinical specialism in augmentative and alternative communication, autism assessment and paediatric dysphagia, spanning 13 years service, mainly in NHS community settings.
I also have an interest in supporting capacity building in under-resourced settings overseas and have in rural settings in the north of Cyprus and in Islamabad, Pakistan.
These blog posts reflect on my past PhD journey. They start with early methodological and theoretical reflections whilst carving out my research design right through to things I continue to ponder on even after thesis submission. I’ve been supervised and mentored by Prof Mina Vasalou, Dr Michael Clarke and Prof Jeff Bezemer.
Please feel free to comment on posts or contact me. I’d really welcome your thoughts.