Black, Rolf

Mr, Dipl.-Ing., MSc

  • 138 Citations
  • 6 h-Index

Research output per year

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Personal profile


Rolf Black Dipl.-Ing. MSc is a lecturer for the new 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.


Latest 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 ACE-LP 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 Tap & Talk project page).


Outer Space | Inner Space. 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 OSIS 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

Award Date: 1 Jan 1995

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Research Output

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

13 Citations (Scopus)

A Design Engineering Approach for Quantitatively Exploring Context-Aware Sentence Retrieval for Nonspeaking Individuals with Motor Disabilities

Kristensson, P. O., Lilley, J., Black, R. & Waller, A., Apr 2020, CHI '20: Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery, p. 1-11 11 p. 398

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

Open Access
  • 10 Downloads (Pure)

    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

  • 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
  • 22 Downloads (Pure)

    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

  • Prizes

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

    Black, Rolf (Recipient), 11 Jan 2019

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Brian Cox Prize - Public Engagement Project of the Year

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

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • 1st Place, Student Research Competition Graduate Award

    Black, Rolf (Recipient), 24 Oct 2011

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Best Paper

    Per Ola Kristensson (Recipient), James Lilley (Recipient), Black, Rolf (Recipient) & Waller, Annalu (Recipient), 6 Mar 2020

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


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

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

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Activities

    Can a Robot be my Friend

    Rolf Black (Speaker), , Annalu Waller (Speaker), , Hasith Nandadasa (Contributor), & Ladan Safiee (Contributor)

    22 Jan 2020

    Activity: Other activity typesSchools engagement

    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

    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

    Dundee Women's Festival 2020 - STEM events

    Amy Cameron (Organiser), , Amy Rogers (Organiser), & Rolf Black (Organiser)

    29 Feb 202014 Mar 2020

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

    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