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Rolf Black is a lecturer for the MSc in Educational Assistive Technology. He is a member of the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Research Group and holds an honorary contract with NHS Tayside as a researcher. He is also Deputy Director for Public Engagement & Outreach for the School of Science and Engineering.
- ACE-LP: Enhancing Augmentative Communication. The ACE-LP Project (Augmenting Communication using Environmental Data to drive Language Prediction) 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.
- Tap and Talk. The Tap and Talk project supports adults with aphasia through group sessions with the use of iPads. iPads can help when communicating by giving access to images, speech output of written text and communication programs such email and web browsers.
- Outer Space | Inner Space (OSIS). This award winning public engagement project brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers with one of Dundee's iconic landmarks, The Mills Observatory - Britain’s first purpose-built public observatory on the summit of Balgay Hill in the heart of Dundee. In this project we have developed an adaptable space and activities under the theme "Ways of Seeing" the invisible universe.
Rolf is a Mechanical Engineer (University of Hanover, Germany, 1996) and Bioengineer (MSc, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, 1995, with a grant of the German Academic Exchange Service). For his undergraduate thesis he developed the mechanism for a bi-axial orthotic hip joint which has been patented and is being successfully marketed by a leading provider of Orthotics and Prosthetics, Otto Bock Healthcare GmbH. He has a professional background as a rehabilitation engineer and extensive experience with children with complex communication needs (CCN).
He co-founded EO-Funktion GmbH in Germany in 1999 (now “Made for Movement”), a leading company in supplying dynamic walking frames for children with complex motor disabilities. After his move from Germany to Scotland he joined Prof Annalu Waller and her team in 2005, now researching in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). He is has been leading the evaluation phases of research projects under Prof Waller such as
- "How was School today…?" - Supporting narrative for non-speaking children (as Researcher Co-Investigator),
- "STANDUP" - System To Augment Non-speakers' Dialogue Using Puns, and
- "The PhonicStick" - Providing Children with CCN with access to Phonemic Speech Output.
The first two projects were funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; all evaluations incorporated extensive interaction with children with CCN and were partially based at Capability Scotland sites.
"How was School today…?" is an award winning cutting-edge project aimed to help children with CCN to share their experiences from school with parents. It won the 2010 TES Schools Award for Outstanding ICT Learning Initiative of the Year for project partner Capability Scotland (Corseford School) and was shortlisted for the BCS UK IT Industry Awards 2010.
The PhonicStick pilot project (funded by Capability Scotland), which Rolf co-initiated, led to a patent application in 2006 (granted for the US in 2012) and to an international travel grant by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2008 to present at the international conference of the International Society of Alternative and Augmentative Communications.
The University of Dundee is challenging the technologists of tomorrow to explore the Artificial Intelligence used by the likes of Alexa and Siri to help people with the most complex disabilities.