Launching the new MSc in Educational Assistive Technology (EduAT)

The Dundee AAC Research Group is proud to be launching the newly developed part-time MSc Programme in Educational Assistive Technology.

Prof Annalu Waller with students and assistive technology users
Prof Annalu Waller with students and assistive technology users.

In collaboration with JISC (historically known as the “Joint Information Systems Committee”), their subject specialist Rohan Slaughter worked with Professor Annalu Waller and members of the AAC Research Group to develop this programme to provide assistive technology (AT) training and development.

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As seen on TV: Best Paper Award at CHI 2020 for ACE-LP Publication

Nonspeaking individuals with motor disabilities often rely on typing on a computer with speech output in conversation with other people. However, even without a physical disability affecting the typing process, contributions by communication aid are too slow and error prone with typical typing rates of physically impaired person being between 5 and 20 words-per-minute. This is in contrast to the rate people speak, which is typically in the range of 100 and 140 words-per-minute. This difference in communication rate is referred to as the communication gap. This gap is currently very large, typically ranging between 80 and 135 words-per-minute and affects the quality of everyday life interactions for the users.

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The DJ within the STG

At one of our Straight Talking Group (STG) teaching session with MSc students in AAC and AT we got to chat about what people are doing apart from their contributions to teaching and research. It’s been a while now that this was posted but it is always worth revisiting: Georgie works at Hospital Radio Perth – watch the clip to get a glimpse of her work as a key member of the team.

?: Cerebral palsy can be a debilitating condition – but that’s not stopping this Perthshire woman from pursuing her passion for radio.Georgie Williams can’t speak and is wheelchair bound but has become a key member of at Hospital Radio Perth.Our reporter Callum Clark went along to meet her.

Posted by Tay FM on Wednesday, 29 May 2019
Tay FM Facebook post from 29 May 2019

Georgie is a member of the Straight Talking Group (STG) here the User Centre in Computing, University of Dundee. The group supports both teaching and research and meets regularly to interact with students, lecturers and researchers.

The group also regularly reviews software and hardware for accessibility as part of our consultancy work. If you are interested in the group’s work or even want to become a member (if you are a person who uses AAC), please get in touch with Kathleen Cummins, contact details on our ‘Contact us’ page.

Special User Interfaces – My Eye Gaze Journey

We had the most amazing guest for our regular seminar series. Becky Tyler is 16 years old. She has severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy and uses special technology to access her computer.

Becky in the Wolfson Theatre in the QMB
Becky Tyler with ‘full house’ in the QMB Wolfson Theatre

Eye gaze, a still relatively new technology, has changed Becky’s life in terms of enabling her to use the computer more effectively. However, accessing mainstream software using this technology can still be a challenge. Although eye gaze compatible software is still a niche market, Microsoft is now preparing its operating system Windows 10 for eye gaze support and recent tech developments by SpecialEffect have made the probably most successful computer game ever, Minecraft, eye gaze compatible.

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Technology Taster Day at V&A Dundee

On the 24 August 2019, our AAC research team presented “Painting with your Eyes” and “Chat like Stephen Hawking” at V&A Dundee Technology Taster Day.

People in a room trying out eye gaze and switch access
The DAAC team in action at the V&A Dundee

Giving visitors a chance find out more about access technology for people with physical disabilities, the highlight of the day was definitely the talk by Becky Tyler, a young woman with cerebral palsy, who has been interacting with her computer not with her hands but with her eyes. This enabled her to paint, to play and, probably most importantly, to talk!

Busy auditorium with Becky and her mum being introduced by Rolf Black
Becky Tyler on her Eye Gaze journey

More than 150 people came to our session in the learning studio to try out how you can paint using your eyes only or to talk by pressing only one switch.

Upcoming Keynotes

Considerations and Challenges in Life Story Research
6 June 2019 Trinity College Dublin
Prof Annalu Waller: Creative technologies, capturing stories

Body of Knowledge: Art and Embodied Cognition Conference,
27 – 29 June 2019 Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

Society for the Study of Behavioural Phenotypes 22nd Educational Day and Research Symposium
4 – 6 September 2019 Birmingham

CIISE19 International Congress of Social and Educational Inclusion
24 – 25 October 2019 Bilbao

EPSRC’s Digital Economy 10 Year Showcase

Annalu, Kathleen and Rolf went to London for EPSRC’s Digital Economy Theme 10 Year Showcase. The Dundee team was chosen as one of 10 research projects funded through the theme to exhibit their activities at the BT Tower event in London.

EPSRC is celebrating the success of their Digital Economy Theme since its launch event 10 years ago in 2009, where Rolf and Annalu exhibited their “How was School today…?” project. More recently, Rolf and Annalu won a £10k EPSRC Public Engagement grant and for this year’s BT Tower event they showcased the “Painting with your eyes” workstation (here with John Baird, Head of RCUK’s Digital Economy Programme at EPSRC).

Human Communication – a CATCH research theme special event, 22 January 2019

Annalu is sharing our research at CATCH in Sheffield today (from the blog by Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Group (RAT Group), the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) and the Telehealth and Care Technologies theme of CLAHRC YH):

“On 22 January 2019 CATCH is hosting a special day of events focusing on our work in one of our research themes, human communication.

Our research in this area brings together colleagues from many disciplines, such as computer science and human communication sciences in the university. We also work closely with colleagues in the NHS including speech and language therapists and clinical scientists.

The event, hosted by Dr Heidi Christensen and Dr Stuart Cunnigham, will feature talks from Rebecca Bright, one of the founders of TherapyBox, and Professor Annalu Waller, Chair of Human Communication Technologies at the University of Dundee. There will also be an opportunity for PhD students to give short talks.”