Our research is focussed on the involvement of end-users across a number of areas in order to ensure that research products are useful, effective and meaningful. We use a variety of qualitative and quantitative methodologies both on-site and in the “real world”.

ACE-LP: Augmenting Communication using Environmental Data to drive Language Prediction

The ACE-LP Project brings together research expertise in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) (University of Dundee), Intelligent Interactive Systems (University of Cambridge), and Computer Vision and Image Processing (University of Dundee) to develop a predictive AAC system that will address these prohibitively slow communication rates by introducing the use of multimodal sensor data to inform state of the art language prediction.

Contact: Annalu Waller, email:
Partners: Aria NLG, Capability Scotland, Communication Matters, Edesix, National Museum Scotland, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Scope, Smartbox, Tobii DynaVox
Project website:

Tap and Talk

Tap and Talk Logo

The Tap and Talk project supports adults with aphasia through group sessions and drop-in sessions with the use of iPads and other touchscreen devices (Android tablets and mobile smart phones). These devices can help when communicating by giving access to images, speech output of written text and communication programs such email and web browsers.

Contact: Rolf Black, email:
Funder: SCVO
Partners: NHS Tayside, Speakability

Stories at the Dentists

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The Stories at the Dentists study aims to develop a computer based communication system to support people with intellectual disabilities to understand dental procedures with the aim of reducing anxiety for both patients and clinicians, and to enable patients to be more involved in the decision making process.

Contact: Annalu Waller, email:
Funder: EPSRC, RCUK Digital Economy, Research in the Wild
Partners: NHS Tayside, Capability Scotland
Project website:

It’s-not-one-thing (in1t)

in1t LogoIt’s-not-one-thing is an interdisciplinary project centred around the use of iPad technology for users with Aphasia. This project is twofold, firstly seeking to improve rehabilitation and foster independence through use of i-Pad technology. Secondly, this project aims to co-create print resources to develop independent learning. The aim of ‘It’s-not-one-thing’, is to increase accessibility for those excluded to technology, in this instance those individuals who have aphasia, a communication impairment as a result of brain injury, e.g. stroke.

Contact: Rolf Black, email:
Funder: CHSS
Partners: NHS Tayside, DJCAD

Outer Space Inner Space (OSIS)


Outer Space Inner Space (OSIS) aims to bring an interdisciplinary group of researchers together with one of Dundee’s iconic landmarks, The Mills Observatory – the only remaining public observatory outside Greenwich, in order to develop an adaptable space and activities under the theme of “Ways of Seeing” the invisible universe.

Contact: Rolf Black, email:
Funder: Welcome Trust
Partners: Leisure and Culture Dundee, GRE at the School of Life Sciences
Project website:


PhonicStick prototypeThe PhonicStick project is looking into the possibility to access and blend letter sounds (Phonics) through a joystick device. It allows the blending of short words and can so support literacy learning through playing with sounds without the need to learn graphical representations of the sounds, be it symbols or letter.

Contact: Rolf Black, email:
Funder: Capability Scotland
Partners: Capability Scotland, University of Uppsala, Dundee City Council
Project website:

How was School today…?

HwSt Logo

“How was School today…?” (HwSt), an award winning research project, looked into the feasibility of using sensor data and data-to-text technology to support personal narrative of non-speaking children who use AAC.

Being able to tell stories about ourselves is a central part of the human experience and of social interaction. Most people do this naturally, for example while chatting with family members over the dinner table. But telling stories about oneself can be a real struggle for people with complex communication needs (CCN). Relying on using Speech Generating Devices, their interaction can be restricted in speed and vocabulary which can be a frustrating experience when it comes to spontaneous social conversation.

Contact: Rolf Black, email:
Funder: RCUK/EPSRC Digital Economy
Partners: Capability Scotland, DynaVox
Project website:


PhD Project, Ha Trinh

The iSCAN project aimed to explore a new type of communication system, which enables the users to access a limited set of spoken phonemes (i.e. speech sounds). By combining sequences of phonemes, novel words and messages can be generated without knowledge of orthographic spelling. Rate enhancement techniques, including phoneme prediction and phoneme-based word prediction, have been developed and incorporated into iSCAN to facilitate phoneme entry and word creation processes.

Contact: Annalu Waller, email:
Funder: SICSA, School of Computing (University of Dundee)
Partners: University of Edinburgh, University of St Andrews


PhD Project, Suzanne Prior

The CHAMPION research used technology to improve communication between adult patients with moderate to profound communication impairment and hospital staff. This was achieved through the development and evaluation of an electronic multimedia patient profile to provide hospital staff with accessible information about patients with moderate to profound communication impairments. This profile included multimedia information (such as videos, audio and text) about the ‘person behind the patient’, their medical narratives and individual care needs.

Contact: Annalu Waller, email:
Funder: Capability Scotland
Partners: Capability Scotland


The CHRONICLES project aims to work with adults with severe speech and physical impairment (SSPI), their support staff, families and friends to harness existing research technology to support them in formulating, editing and telling their own narratives. Adults with SSPI are involved in providing requirements for the system and will actively participate in designing the system functionality and interface. The system allows the user to embellish or restructure narratives during interactive conversation and to maintain access to narrative over the lifespan of individuals.

Contact: Annalu Waller, email:
Funder: EPSRC Digital Economy
Partners: Capability Scotland


ECHOES2 is a technology-enhanced learning environment where 5-to-7-year-old children on the Autism Spectrum and their typically developing peers can explore and improve social and communicative skills through interacting and collaborating with virtual characters (agents) and digital objects. ECHOES2 provides developmentally appropriate goals and methods of intervention that are meaningful to the individual child, and prioritises communicative skills such as joint attention.

Contact: Annalu Waller, email:
Partners: London Knowledge Lab, Heriot Watt University, University of Edinburgh, Birkbeck College, University of Birmingham, University of Wales Institute, University of Strathclyde, University of Sussex
Project website:

Sharing in Autism Spectrum Conditions

PhD Project, Rachel Menzies

This research aims to develop a tool to assist children with Autism Spectrum Conditions in learning about and exploring sharing skills. Conducted within the Echoes project, the tool was designed with input from practitioners and children, both with and without Autism Spectrum Conditions. The evaluation of the tool also makes use of practitioner input following participatory research methodologies.

Contact: Annalu Waller, email:
Funder: ESRC
Partners: University of Edinburgh


The Standup jokerThe STANDUP project created software which encourages children with certain communication difficulties to experiment with words. It contains dictionaries and information about words, plus simple rules about the structure of jokes, primarily puns. the software was tested on children with and without language limitations. STANDUP builds on earlier research at the university of Edinburgh that produced one of the first joke-creating computer programs called JAPE, which can produce simple riddles such as “what do you get when you cross a monkey and a peach? An ape-ricot”.

A follow-up project created a kiosk version and an online version of STANDUP. The kiosk was based at the Glasgow Science Centre and the Aberdeen Science centre for some time but has now been retired. The online version still works at Or follow the Joking Computer on Twitter @jokingcomputer

Contact: Annalu Waller, email:
Funder: EPSRC
Partners: Capability Scotland, University of Edinburgh, University of Aberdeen
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