• 128 Citations
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Personal profile


Rolf Black Dipl.-Ing. MSc is a member of the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Research Group (aac.dundee.ac.uk) at Dundee University and holds an honorary contract with NHS Tayside as a researcher.

Current Projects:

  • 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 (for more details please visit the project page).
  • 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 (for more details please visit the project page).
  • 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 (for more details please visit the project page).

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.

Education/Academic qualification

Master in Science, University of Strathclyde

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Projects 2013 2020

Research Output 2008 2019

11 Citations (Scopus)

Supporting personal narrative for children with complex communication needs

Black, R., Waller, A., Turner, R. & Reiter, E., Jul 2012, In : ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. 19, 2, p. - 35 p., 15.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Presentation Matters: A Design Study of Different Keyboard Layouts to Investigate the Use of Prediction for AAC

Black, R., Waller, A. & McKillop, C., 27 Aug 2019, AAATE 2019 Conference: Global Challenges in Assistive Technology: Research, Policy & Practice. Desideri, L., de Witte, L., Chattat, R. & Hoogerwerf, E-J. (eds.). Supplement 1 ed. Holland: IOS Press, Vol. 31. p. 141-142 2 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Mobile Applications
Focus Groups

Gathering egocentric video and other sensor data with AAC users to inform narrative prediction

Black, R., Rashid, Z. & Waller, A., 21 Jul 2018.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Open Access
Real time systems

I have Aphasia: An app designed by people with aphasia for people with aphasia

Black, R. & Kelly, C., 23 Jul 2018.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

Application programs

User Centred Design with Disabled Participants: A New SGD Interface Supporting Narrative Prediction

Black, R., Rashid, Z. & Waller, A., 21 Jul 2018.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Open Access
User centered design
Software design
Mobile devices
Information technology


Commendation: Stephen Fry Awards for Excellence in Public Engagement with Research

Rolf Black (Recipient), 11 Jan 2019

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

speech disorder

Brian Cox Prize - Public Engagement Project of the Year

Rolf Black (Recipient) & Amy Cameron (Recipient), 2016

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


1st Place, Student Research Competition Graduate Award

Rolf Black (Recipient), 24 Oct 2011

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Acoustic waves

Commendation: Stephen Fry Awards for Excellence in Public Engagement with Research

Rolf Black (Recipient), Amy Cameron (Recipient) & Christine Millar (Recipient), 13 Jan 2017

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

outer space
life sciences
human being

Activities 2013 2020

Science Saturdays: Guardians of the Genome

Rolf Black (Organiser), Christine Millar (Host), Nicola Wiechens (Presenter), Thomas Owen-Hughes (Contributor), Abigail Corsie (Contributor), Matthias Toman (Contributor), Meng-Ying Wu (Contributor), Seraina Blümli (Contributor), Mahamadou-Lamine Niakate (Contributor), Jason Sharpe (Contributor)
1 Dec 2018

Activity: Other activity typesPublic engagement and outreach - festival/exhibition

Lee Ridley, aka Lost Voice Guy

Lee Ridley (Presenter), Rolf Black (Organiser), Annalu Waller (Contributor)
12 Apr 2018

Activity: Other activity typesPublic engagement and outreach - festival/exhibition

Science Saturday at the National Museum Scotland - Communicating Differently

Rolf Black (Organiser), Annalu Waller (Contributor)
10 Feb 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Family Fun with Women in STEM - Dundee Women's Festival 2020

Amy Cameron (Organiser), Amy Rogers (Organiser), Rolf Black (Organiser)
1 Mar 2020

Activity: Other activity typesOther

Science Saturday: Guardians of the Genome

Amy Cameron (Organiser), Rolf Black (Organiser), Bettina Meier (Contributor), Jane Wright (Contributor)
22 Feb 2020

Activity: Other activity typesOther

Press / Media

Aphasia group launches app to explain the condition

Rolf Black


3 items of Media coverage

Press/Media: Other

Celebrating 80 years of stargazing at Mills Observatory

Rolf Black & Sarah Hussain


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Other

Regaining a voice with technology

Rolf Black


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Research