The pioneering User Centre at the University of Dundee celebrates a decade of bringing the benefits of modern technology to the elderly and adults with severe communication disabilities.
The User Centre, based in the Queen Mother Building, commemorates its first ten years of innovative research with the unveiling of a plaque in memory of John Gibson, first chair and founding member of the Centre who passed away last year.
The event coincides with the announcement of Hollywood actor Brian Cox as the Centre’s first Patron.
A £1 million research project that aims to change dramatically the way people with no speech and complex disabilities can have a conversation with others has been launched by the Universities of Dundee and Cambridge.
Computer-based systems – called Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) – use word prediction to speed up typing, a feature similar to that commonly found on mobile phones or tablets for texting and emailing.
However, for those with complex disabilities, including for example Professor Stephen Hawking, using typing to communicate can still be extremely slow, as little as 2 words per minute, which makes face-to-face conversation very difficult. Even with an average computer-aided communication rate of about 15 words per minute, conversations do not compare to the 150 words per minute speaking rate of people without a communication impairment.
We are excited to welcome Dr Kate Woodcock to the QMB this August 24th for her seminar entitled “Helping children with neurodevelopmental disorders to show fewer temper outbursts: developing parent training and video games using human centred design”. Sounds fascinating! All welcome!
It’s official: We have our very own Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). Annalu was down south on Friday to meet The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace for a wee chat and her well deserved badge of honour! Congratulations again from the whole team here in Dundee.
Professor Annalu Waller, Chair of Human Communication Technologies at the University of Dundee, has been awarded an OBE for her services to people with complex communication needs. Professor Waller has been based in Computing at the University since 1989 and has helped established Dundee’s reputation as one of the world’s leading centres for research into augmentative and alternative communication technologies for people with severe communication difficulties. She works closely with children and adults with disabilities, involving service users in the development of innovative technologies.
The workshop showcased the work being done within the communication strand of the Dundee medical curriculum led by Drs Ching-Wa Chung and Jennifer Kennedy (GP clinical tutors) and members of the StraightTalking User Group led by Professor Annalu Waller and Mrs Kathleen Cummins from Computing.
This free hands on workshop is run by the Tayside Right to Speak Project and SCTCI (Scottish Centre for Technology for the Communication Impaired) who specialise in providing people who have communication impairments with the support they need.