Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)


Person using head apparatus to operate a keyboard

The Unspoken Voices research project is part of Katherine Broomfield’s NIHR/HEE funded Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship (2017-2022) and is being undertaken with Manchester Metropolitan University. This project is concerned with people who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) because they cannot speak clearly, or cannot speak at all.  AAC refers to a set of strategies such as pointing to pictures, words or letters as well as the use of special equipment that can speak out messages entered into or stored within it.

The aim of this research project is to understand more about people’s experience of using AAC to communicate to inform the development of clinical tool that will evaluate AAC interventions from the perspective of the patient. Such tools are called patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs). Kath has completed a systematic literature review of PROMs currently used in AAC, and a narrative review of qualitative literature about the experiences of people who use AAC to communicate. She has conducted over 40 interviews with people who have communication difficulties to understand more about their expectations and experience of AAC to understand what outcomes are important to them. Kath is due to complete her PhD by the end of 2022, but which time she will have identified the content for a PROM.

Kath is working with an expert group of people who use AAC in the delivery of this project and has developed expertise in supporting patient and public involvement creatively to enable the involvement of hard to engage with groups in research. She has published information about the creative methods she has used and co-edited a book with contributions from colleagues at BSLTRU.

Kath is writing a blog to increase awareness of this project.  The idea is to voice thoughts and ideas that are raised over the duration of the work.  If you are interested in reading more than the link to the blog is